Auckland bay’s swimming in sewage
Used syringes and tampons are being found strewn across Auckland beaches. But it is the unseen pollution that poses serious health risks.
Westmere resident Charlotte Fisher says she is ‘‘disgusted’’ by rubbish washing up at Cox’s Bay and Okahu Bay following regular sewage spills from Auckland’s stormwater drains.
The situation is only getting worse and now she is taking matters into her own hands, cleaning up the litter herself.
Auckland Council water quality organisation Safeswim this month renewed its health warning on Cox’s Bay, deeming it unsafe to swim at due to pollution.
Okahu Bay, is regarded safe to swim however, Fisher and her partner walked along the beach in September and picked up rubbish including tampons, syringes and food wrappers.
‘‘In October we went back to Okahu Bay and were disgusted at the layer of sewage materials,’’ Fisher says.
‘‘I don’t want people to be disgusted by tampons but they’re evidence of the sewage spills,’’ she says.
Watercare and Auckland Council said in a joint written statement they were aware of the waste issues.
‘‘Waste or debris can wash up on the beaches from a number of sources including littering and illegal activity, as well as through stormwater and wastewater systems.’’
However, this isn’t a new problem for Auckland’s waterways.
In 2007, the former Auckland City Council announced a $2 million plan to dredge the Cox’s Bay creek, removing a build-up of human waste.
A spokesperson for Watercare says the tidal flushing was successfully restored and it has no plans to undertake this work again in the near future.
The problem was caused by an ageing sewerage system transporting storm and wastewater in the same pipe.
The southern part of Cox’s Bay has separate stormwater and wastewater systems. However, to the north-east the rest of the bay has a combined wastewater network.
In 2013 it was announced by Watercare a new interceptor would be built to intercept major overflows, and help restore the creek and the bay to its former health, making it swimmable.
However the $1 billion project won’t be finished until 2030.
Charlotte Fisher from Westmere is fed up with the sewage spills and rubbish at Cox’s Bay and Okahu Bay.