Clean Water

Element - - BUSINESS -

Af­ter this sum­mer’s drought few will be sur­prised to read that: “Cur­rent de­mand for water al­ready equals or ex­ceeds avail­abil­ity in some sur­face water bod­ies and aquifers in Auck­land. Pro­jected fu­ture growth is ex­pected to in­crease com­pe­ti­tion for fresh­wa­ter.”

Ac­cord­ing to the last State of Auck­land Re­gion Report pro­duced by the coun­cil in 2010, water qual­ity on most mea­sures at most sites was ei­ther sta­ble or im­prov­ing be­tween 1995 and 2005. But there is clearly still work to do, as the report also noted that fresh water qual­ity is poor in streams, wet­lands, vul­ner­a­ble aquifers and lakes. The Plan pro­poses a host of reg­u­la­tory mea­sures to main­tain water qual­ity stan­dards by con­trol­ling de­mand, ero­sion, run-off, and waste­water flows. It also en­vis­ages and hopes for even greater tan­gata whenua par­tic­i­pa­tion in water man­age­ment is­sues in the years to come.

An­other pro­posed aim is the re­ten­tion of the nat­u­ral pro­file and course of all rivers or streams, keep­ing ri­par­ian veg­e­ta­tion and fish pas­sage wher­ever pos­si­ble and tak­ing ac­tion to avoid sed­i­ment build up. This would be achieved partly by pro­hibit­ing devel­op­ment on, un­der or over lakes, rivers and streams un­less there is no vi­able alternative and ef­fec­tively ban­ning any ma­te­rial ex­trac­tion from lakes, streams and wet­lands, ex­cept where it is re­quired to en­hance the eco­log­i­cal value of the fea­ture or pro­vide pub­lic ac­cess. Live­stock would also be per­ma­nently ex­cluded from wa­ter­courses to pre­vent dam­age to bank ar­eas, soil ero­sion and water pol­lu­tion.

The pro­vi­sion of water and waste­water ser­vices to peo­ple through­out the Auck­land re­gion is now the re­spon­si­bil­ity of Water­care. Wholly owned by the coun­cil, the com­pany sup­plies around 370 mil­lion litres of drink­ing water to the peo­ple of Auck­land and treats around 350 mil­lion litres of waste­water and trade waste. Its 2012 an­nual report stated that it was man­ag­ing as­sets val­ued at $7.8 bil­lion and was gen­er­ated $373 mil­lion in rev­enue a year. Its key tar­get in ad­di­tion to meet­ing the re­gion’s water de­mand is to re­duce that de­mand by 15% on 2004 lev­els by 2025. This would de­crease pres­sure on its own sys­tems and on the re­gion’s en­vi­ron­ment as a whole, and will in­clude main­tain­ing water me­ter­ing across the re­gion as well as work­ing with the government on new guide­lines to min­imise water use in homes and busi­nesses.

The Plan also al­lows for the use of care­fully treated ‘biosolids’ as agri­cul­tural fer­tiliser, an ap­proach which is gain­ing ground around the world as means of ef­fec­tively re­cy­cling sewage sludge to re­duce the fi­nan­cial cost and en­vi­ron­men­tal risks of dis­pos­ing of it in land­fill.

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