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our place Is dilution the solution to our harbour’s pollution?


Manukau Harbour is under pressure – from a massive storm water pipeline project, old leaky


septic tanks and


residential development. JADE REIDY investigates what could and should be done.


A Watercare project to replace 13km


of ageing storm water pipes that partly run under the Manukau Harbour has been granted consent, despite a $40,000 campaign to prevent emergency discharges from the planned pipelines. Construction of the so-called Central Interceptor will begin in 2018. The new pipeline will cross the harbour at a depth of 30m below the seabed. The entire project is set to cost $950m.


The Manukau Harbour can be a beautiful place to spend time but all is not as it seems.


The Manukau Harbour Restoration Society (MHRS)


received funding from the Ministry for the Environment to challenge Watercare and is pleased it has managed to get some concessions. These concessions place tighter restrictions on potential discharges. However, the society is disappointed that a review of the current effects of treated waste being discharged into the harbour won’t happen. “The


current discharge resource recommended this review,” says MHRS president Jim


Jackson. “Wastewater has been pumped into the harbour for 55 years, currently at the rate of 22,000 truck loads daily. It’s Auckland’s biggest river flow. You can’t tell me that’s not having an effect on the harbour and on aquatic life.” Jim says the best estimate of how long treated


waste is taking to reach the Tasman Sea is 12 days. Both NIWA and the coastal engineering experts Tonkin & Taylor have carried out modelling on the harbour but T&T engineer Richard Reinen-Hamill says you have to ask the right question: what is our water quality and how does tidal exchange of water work. So far, the experts have only asked about water level variation at specific sites. Almost all the water on the harbour is fully replaced


daily by the tide but, says Richard, “the adage that ‘dilution is a solution to pollution’ ignores the fact that it’s much more preferable to avoid the ecosystem being contaminated in the first place.” Jill Naysmith, who chairs the local boards’ Manukau Harbour Forum, agrees that information about the health of the harbour is inadequate. “There’s a lot of data missing,” she says. Forum and Waitakere Ranges Local Board member


consent


Saffron Toms agrees. “We just don’t understand enough about the ‘big picture’ health of the harbour to be making decisions and enshrining them in a marine


Dog access rules change Waitakere Ranges Local Board has agreed to a series of changes to local dog access rules, following public consultation earlier this year. The key decisions of the Waitakere Ranges Local Board hearings


panel are to retain or expand the under control off-leash areas at Te Henga/Bethells Beach, Piha and North Piha Beaches and eight other local beaches while retaining an under control on-leash rule on other beaches. The board will also identify 18 parks or areas of parks as under control off-leash and apply a default under control on-leash rule to all other parks in the board’s area. A copy of the hearings panel report and 10 September meeting are available at http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/


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