Call to fix ‘filthy’ creek

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Lisa Sloan

A LO­CAL high school prin­ci­pal is call­ing for ac­tion over the pol­luted state of Meola Creek.

Mt Al­bert Gram­mar head Dale Bur­den says the wa­ter is so con­tam­i­nated that rugby balls kicked in from the school’s nearby sports fields have to be re­trieved with gloves on.

He has asked Metrowa­ter to fence off the creek for the safety of his stu­dents.

Mr Bur­den says the prob­lem is not the school’s re­spon­si­bil­ity and au­thor­i­ties need to step in and help.

“I’m not in­ter­ested in wait­ing 20 years for sewer sep­a­ra­tion to hap­pen,” he says.

“They say they are a com­mu­nity friendly or­gan­i­sa­tion but this is about as com­mu­nity friendly as the bubonic plague,” Mr Bur­den says.

Meola Creek has be­come pol­luted be­cause of com­bined storm and waste­water drains over­flow­ing into the stream.

Sewer sep­a­ra­tion projects which would stop the pol­lu­tion are cur­rently un­der way but will take years to be com­pleted.

The creek runs be­tween the edge of Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School’s sports fields and the Kerr Tay­lor re­serve.

Mr Bur­den says he met with Metrowa­ter a year ago to dis­cuss fenc­ing off the creek, and while of­fi­cers thought it was a good idea, no fence has been put in place.

He says of­fi­cials need to stop blam­ing each other and start fix­ing the prob­lem.

“I would have thought it would just be re­spon­si­ble to clean it up,” he says.

“This shouldn’t have to be at the school’s ex­pense as it’s not our fault.”

Rugby play­ers Jay­den Met­calfe, 14, and Matt McGa­han, 15, say rugby balls of­ten get kicked into the creek dur­ing prac­tice.

“I wouldn’t want to be the one to get it out,” says Jay­den.

“It’s pretty bad and ev­ery­one is con­cerned about it.”

An Auck­land City Coun­cil spokesman says con­tam­i­nants in the creek in­clude E-coli and en­te­ro­cocci, which can re­sult in gas­troen­teri­tis.

It is ad­vis­able for stu­dents and the pub­lic to stay out of the creek, he says.

A spokes­woman says Metrowa­ter did meet with Mr Bur­den last year to dis­cuss fenc­ing off the creek.

A de­ci­sion to go ahead with the fenc­ing was made in Fe­bru­ary in con­junc­tion with the coun­cil’s man­age­ment plan for the creek.

The spokes­woman says the plan is now in the ten­der eval­u­a­tion and ac­cep­tance stage and once the coun­cil has ac­cepted the ten­der, work will be­gin on the fence.

Pat Prescott of the St Lukes En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety has also been cam­paign­ing to get Meola Creek cleaned up.

“We’re hop­ing they’ll take some ac­tion now in­stead of wait­ing for an­other 20 years,” she says.

“It’s filthy and full of bugs and re­ally Third World.”

She says the creek has be­come pol­luted be­cause the sewer sys­tem was built be­tween 1900 and 1920 and can­not cope with the vol­ume of peo­ple us­ing it now.

The coun­cil is also cur­rently look­ing at ways to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion on a city-wide scale.

The city de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee last month called for coun­cil to ur­gently work with Metrowa­ter and Water­care to stop sewer and stormwa­ter over­flows into Meola Creek.

A meet­ing will be held to­mor­row to dis­cuss the re­sult­ing re­port.

The re­port rec­om­mends the coun­cil and Metrowa­ter con­tinue ef­forts to min­imise the over­flow of stormwa­ter and un­der­take work to re­duce the im­pact on the com­mu­nity.

It also rec­om­mends the only prac­ti­cal long-term so­lu­tion is for Water­care to in­stall a new in­ter­cep­tor main.

The re­port also sug­gests op­tions to man­age over­flows when they hap­pen.

Th­ese in­clude rais­ing the foot­path along­side Meola Creek, no­ti­fy­ing af­fected par­ties as soon as over­flows hap­pen, in­stal­la­tion of se­cu­rity fenc­ing and signs and flood haz­ard map­ping.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Not on: Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School rugby player Jay­den Met­calfe, 14, is con­cerned about sewage in Meola Creek which runs be­hind the school’s sports fields.

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