Watercare steps up on sewage leaks

DISGUSTING: Sewage leaking through the ground around a manhole at Mellons Bay Beach, captured on the morning of April 5 after heavy downpours. Photo supplied.

It’s been a wild, wet start to autumn across most of the country, but for concerned residents in Mellons Bay, the weather has brought on another unwanted visitor – leaking sewage.

In the event of heavy rainfall, the area’s wastewater and stormwater network pipes are prone to flooding, leading to sewage overflow onto the beach and surrounding areas.

Following a previous assertion that the stormwater overflow on September 25 was a one-off event and the first of its kind in more than 15 years, Howick Ward Councillors Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart announced at the Howick Local Board meeting on April 10 new preventative measures that will be carried out by Watercare this May in recognition of the ongoing issue.

“The result of the problem down there [at Mellons Bay] is the stormwater getting into the wastewater system,” said Mr Quax.

“I’ve seen [what happens]. It’s not a very nice look.”

The news of further action from Watercare will hopefully come as a relief to the residents of Mellons Bay, including John Champion, who has voiced his dissatisfaction with the way council has dealt with the stormwater overflows.

“We believe health and safety is seriously compromised in our green and pleasant land.”

Times reader Pearl Sidwell also contacted the Times regarding the issue, suggesting “this serious problem needs some greater attention than what it is getting from the council”.

A Watercare representative has confirmed within the next month, Watercare will be installing an alarm inside a manhole cover to provide forewarning to staff when the water gets to a certain level and allow teams to react as quickly as possible, instead of relying on the public to call in.

It’s a move that was questioned at the meeting by board member Bob Wichman, who asked councillors precisely how Watercare plans to react, after being forewarned of the rising water levels from the installed sensors.

Mrs Stewart, however, commended the recent efforts of Watercare and Healthy Waters, in a time that has been “really, really hard”.

“Watercare and Healthy Waters have really been quite outstanding with the work they’ve had to carry out.

“We do have a lot of problems that have been created by stormwater. What’s happening down in our beaches is not just happening in the Howick areas, and not just in the Auckland region. In fact, it’s happening right through the country.”

She also encouraged residents to ensure they have adequate insurance to guard against future weather events.

“If you’re not insured, make sure you’re insured, because it looks like we’re going to have a lot more of these serious floodwater incidents.”