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Tougher controls on car-washing to stop pollution going into Porirua Harbour

Press Release – Porirua City Council
Porirua City Council last night passed a stormwater bylaw to control what people flush into the stormwater network to better protect Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour.

Councillor Bronwyn Kropp, Chair of the Harbour Committee and member of Te Awarua-o-Porirua Whaitua Committee, said the Council had to prepare for tougher water quality standards.

New water quality standards and stormwater consenting requirements will be set through the Wellington regional plan review and whaitua processes in response to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014.

“The Council is legally responsible for what comes out of its stormwater network so we needed to take action to stop pollution going into it,” Cr Kropp said.

“Education is a key aspect of behaviour change and our Council has been promoting messages and running education programmes about this for a long time. Many people still don’t realise that what goes down stormwater drains flows straight into our harbour.”

Under the bylaw it will be illegal to tip contaminants like paint or petrol into the stormwater system. Residents will need to wash their cars on grass surfaces or at commercial car washes rather than drives or roads that feed into the stormwater system. There are plenty of commercial car wash facilities in the city which use the wastewater rather than the stormwater network.

“The bylaw will give the Council a greater ability to protect our harbour from pollutants that are tipped, or spilled, into our stormwater network,” Cr Kropp said.

“We are responsible under the RMA for what comes out of our stormwater network but can’t easily control what goes in. This bylaw will help us manage this better from now on.

“Ensuring the health of our harbour is a major focus for our city and we are confident our community will get behind us.”

Cr Kropp hopes other Councils may soon follow suit.

“As a large part of the Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour catchment sits in Wellington City we hope a catchment wide approach will follow soon.”

Cr Kropp said a grace period will be in place while the Council contacts key stakeholders and carries out a concerted community education programme.

This will include talking to groups who wash cars as fundraisers and in those instances the Council may be able to help redirect the wash-water to grass or garden.

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