Auck­land bay’s swim­ming in sewage

Auckland City Harbour News - - SITUATIONS VACANT - CA­TRIN OWEN

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.

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