Wednesday, February 28, 2024

‘Only rain should go down the drain’

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Nichola Painter is the Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum’s co-ordinator. File photo supplied

Two environmentally-minded east Auckland community leaders are encouraging the public to help protect precious local waterways.

Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum co-ordinator Nichola Painter and co-chair Bruce Kendall say they’re looking for creative ways to raise awareness about the health of local streams and how they can be protected.

“We need locals to know the effects their behaviours have on local waterways, and how they can report pollution events they see occurring.”

They say water pollution events can happen rapidly and be deadly to native fish and birds.

Such an event could be short-lived but regular, such as an illegal connection from a washing machine to the stormwater network.

“Or it could be a short, intense, random event such as someone washing their truck with detergent on the street, or washing paint brushes and pouring the water down the storm water drain. Pollution events can be hard to locate.”

Bruce Kendall is the Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum’s co-chair. Times file photo Wayne Martin

Painter and Kendall say only rain should go down stormwater drains, as they’re pathways to streams.

“Roadside stormwater run-off is not treated, so anything that goes down the drain on your street will affect aquatic life such as eels and whitebait species, and eventually the ability to swim at our local beaches.

“We need to constantly be mindful of maintaining a thriving, dynamic and healthy ecosystem that can continue to be loved and used by the community and which positively enhances and connects with the Manukau Harbour, the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.”

There are some simple ways people can help protect the health of local streams and waters:

  • Keep wash-off from building work or cleaning activities away from stormwater drains and streams. This can include cement, paint and fuel products and car wash detergents.
  • Do not use herbicides, pesticides or fertilisers within 10 metres of a stream. They can be toxic to fish and wildlife and pose a threat to public health.
  • Never dump animal, fish and plant waste into stormwater drains or streams. These types of waste can cause excessive algae growth and contribute to bacterial contamination harmful to stream life.
  • Do not pour cooking fat down the kitchen drain or flush wet-wipes down the toilet. This can lead to blocked sewers, which can cause wastewater overflow into local beaches and waterway.

The Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum meets bimonthly to discuss environmental issues.

Its meetings are open to the public and people keen to join the discussion can contact the forum online at

People who see a pollution event in progress can report it to Auckland Council’s hotline on 09 377 3107.

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