Letter to Candidates in the local body elections for 2022

Tēnā koe 

 

I am contacting you on behalf of Rivercare Group Te Wai o Pareira, a community group dedicated to improving the mauri of an important awa in West Auckland. We are seeking support for our Charter, which highlights the issues facing Te Wai o Pareira (Henderson Creek) with regard to public health and offers solutions that could be incorporated into your candidacy campaign.

 

Context

For more than 25 years, Te Wai o Pareira has been subjected to frequent and damaging wastewater overflows. Since our group began water quality testing and the logging of pollution events in 2019, the situation has become measurably worse as housing has intensified (by decreasing permeable surfaces and increasing sewage connections) coupled with an increasing frequency of intense rainfall events. This has resulted in more wastewater overflows from an already overwhelmed sewerage and stormwater network. 

 

  • In 2021 we measured 17 instances where the pathogen levels were recorded at over 86 times the Ministry of Health safe limit. 

 

  • During the period of 1 July to 5 September 2022, 63 wastewater overflows into Te Wai o Pareira were recorded at the handful of sites that we have resource to monitor. 44 of these were at Engineered Overflow Points designed and permitted under the Network Discharge consent to discharge into the awa when the system is overwhelmed.

 

  • 4 of the reported discharge events relate to a broken sewer pipe arising from a landslip.

 

  • Of the remaining 15 discharge events, 14 occurred at Taipari Strand, Te Atatū Peninsula.  All 14 were uncontrolled discharges and are non-compliant with the conditions of the Network Discharge consent.  Some of these flow across the carpark at Taipari Strand, exposing people, dogs and vehicles directly to raw sewage.

 

  • All 63 overflow events expose users of the awa (rowers, kayakers, water skiers, swimmers and fishers) to contact with sewage contaminated water.

 

  • The sewage network that runs along Te Wai o Pareira that is causing the overflows, has more than 41,189 homes connected to it.

 

  • 70% of the sewage in the transmission line running from Taipari Strand to The Concourse, comes from outside of Te Atatū Peninsula.

 

  • Sewage overflows pose a severe health risk to people and their pets, not to mention ecological damage.

 

  • The awa is designated as a Class 1 Recreational  Receiving Environment. 

 

Since establishing Rivercare Group Te Wai o Pareira 3 years ago, we have been working with Watercare and Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters to identify the issues as well as some potential causes. Watercare’s proposed programme of work, the Northern Interceptor Project, expected to address these overflows is not scheduled for completion until after 2036.  We consider that the first phase of the Northern interceptor project, due for completion this year, will not achieve compliance with the Network Discharge consent which requires an average of less than 2 discharges per annum. 

 

Although we meet with those agencies regularly we are yet to see any confirmed actions to reduce the overflows with short or medium term solutions. This is unacceptable to our community. We are calling for Watercare and Healthy Waters to:
 

  • Prioritise works to reduce raw sewage overflows into Te Wai o Pareira and its tributaries.
     

  • Identify and implement measurable short and medium term solutions that will reduce wastewater overflows into Te Wai o Pareira by 2028.
     

  • Design and accelerate Stage 4 / 5 of the Northern Interceptor project (scheduled for 2036) to ensure wastewater overflows to Te Wai o Pareira are compliant with the Network Discharge Consent.

 

We believe these are achievable solutions for Watercare to undertake to stop the decline of this cherished awa. We believe West Aucklanders deserve to be able to put their head under the water of their local river without the risk of illness. 

 

Your response to these issues is important.  As an elected representative you will be expected to participate in consultation with Watercare on their wastewater networks performance and improvement works strategy.  You may also become involved in input on behalf of the community on planning and construction consents.

 

Having now become aware of these issues, can you advise us, please:

 

  • What you will do, if elected to represent the communities of Henderson, Massey, Te Atatū and Te Atatū Peninsula with regards to these issues?

 

  • If you will offer written support for our Charter by return email.

 

Our social media reach is averaging 2941 people per month and we intend to share your feedback with the affected communities.

 

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any further questions or would like to discuss these issues further.

 

Ngā mihi

Rivercare Group Te Wai o Pariera

Te Rōpū Manaakiawa Te Wai o Pariera