by Michael Gunson
The Surfbreak Protection Society is deeply disturbed by yet another wastewater overflow on Wellington’s south coast (Feb 3–Feb 5).
The Wellington City Council’s position is “Generally speaking 48 hours after heavy rainfall it’s usually wise to avoid swimming in the harbour or swimming around the south coast.” But this is not good enough considering the optimal time for surfing is generally directly after a storm/rainfall event.
The release of contaminated water on our coastline is in breach of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (December 2010) in relation to the use and enjoyment of surf breaks.
In 2010 the Wgtn Surfriders Club (now dissolved) consulted with and submitted on a Wellington City Council resource consent application to continue to discharge storm water and occasionally contaminated storm water (untreated wastewater from constructed overflows into the storm water system) directly into the city’s coastal waters, including Lyall Bay and the south coast (The WSB also recommended in its submission that storm water drains in the area of Lyall Bay be fitted with filter traps).
On 18 February 2011 the Hearing Panel acting for the Wellington Regional Council released their decision on a 3 stage approach to resolving storm water and wastewater connections and associated overflow events. The panel acknowledged the significant costs of the works to resolve these overflow events, a fact that was often affirmed to the submitters by the city council during the pre-hearing process as a reason that the council could not afford to give the project the operational urgency and priority it deserves.
SPS questions how the Wellington City Council can prioritise an $8million subsidy for Singapore Airlines to run an uneconomic flight route to Singapore, a $5million consent application subsidy to WIAL for an airport extension with a minimum donation of $90million required for the project, while Wellington ratepayers and tourists have to avoid surfing and swimming in our filthy coastal waters after rainfall events?
The 2011 decision on storm water/wastewater overflows facilitates the opportunity to review the consent conditions under section 128 of the RMA at any time within 3 months of the 30th of June every year.
SPS request that the Regional Council undertake such a review with regard to the oversight of the hearings panel to fully assess the implications of the December 2010 Coastal Policy Statement, particularly in relation to the public’s use and enjoyment of the city’s surf breaks.
SPS are also disappointed that a real time event warning system promised to surfers during consultation on the consents never eventuated (through no fault of Paul Glennie of Capacity).
Michael Gunson handles research and communications for the Surbreak Protection Society.