Response from Simon Court
Act Party Candidate
What is your understanding of the challenges facing Te Wai o Pareira/Henderson Creek?
The people of Te Atatu and surrounding neighbourhoods expect that their waterways will be safe for swimming and recreation, and support biodiversity objectives. They also expect that Auckland Council will enforce water quality regulations, including on their own departments, and CCO‘s like Watercare, to meet community expectations in reasonable time frames, not at their convenience.
Local water sport and recreation clubs rely on Te Wai o Pereira to be safe for their members, which include families and children. Auckland Council and their predecessors made a long term commitment to host these clubs on council reserve land at Taipari Strand, and council has made significant investments in community facilities to support access to local waterways.
However, there are major problems with water quality in the catchment which often make it unsafe for recreation and contact with water in Te Wai o Pareira. This is because Auckland Council, the organisation responsible for managing water quality, has failed in their duty to the community and
to the environment.
Sewage overflows from engineered overflow points on the Watercare network are consented by Auckland Council. These overflows are a result of historical combined sewer and stormwater networks, and a lack of infrastructure investment by successive councils. The sewage overflows mean that the waterways are not safe for swimming or recreation after rainfall events.
Successive councils planned for higher intensity land development under the Resource Management Act, and then consented that development, yet made little effort to provide for the infrastructure required to support that development. Councils have let the environment and community down.
Auckland Council’s closed landfills at Corban Reserve, Kay Road Balefill, Taipari Strand and The Concourse, discharge leachate and contaminants into waterways. Stormwater pipes in the Taipari Strand closed landfill are no longer functioning as a result of settlement in the landfill and pipe failures, which means the pipes allow stormwater to discharge into the landfill during high flow events, which generates excessive leachate. These pipes also act as a preferential pathway for landfill leachate to discharge to waterways during low flow events and at low tide.
There are ongoing discharges from heavy industry in the catchment, which extends past Railside Avenue Henderson, and includes Lincoln Rd, and Henderson light industry and commercial areas, and land development generates sediment and other pollutants. These discharges are generally well
controlled compared to historical practices.
Do you have an aspirational vision for the state of waterways in our community?
That water quality meets the needs of communities for swimming and recreation, and supports a rich biodiversity in the fresh water and marine environment.
Does your party have a policy that will improve water quality in Te Wai o Pareira/Henderson Creek in the foreseeable future?
Does your party have any policy around investment in the sewerage and stormwater networks in Te Atatu/Massey areas?
The major issue in urban areas such as Auckland and Wellington is that councils have let existing networks run down to the point that sewage regularly spills into harbours and streams, and only 25% of waste water treatment plants are fully compliant with their consent conditions.
Local councils have resource consents which mean they don’t even have to report these spills to the public, and regional councils rarely prosecute territorial authorities for thousands of overflows, only twice in the year to June 2019 according to Water NZ’s annual surveillance report.
ACT will require councils to commit to short and long-term water quality objectives, and to plan and budget to renew and upgrade aging and failing water and wastewater infrastructure.
In addition to the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, the government proposes a new drinking water regulator Taumata Arowai to have a national oversight role for sewerage and stormwater networks, but that role will not include enforcement, which despite the failures over the past 25 years, will remain with regional councils.
ACT will stop councils from obtaining consents to spill raw sewage into streams and rivers, and apply to councils the same set of rules that businesses and farmers must follow.
ACT Leader and MP for Epsom David Seymour says "We are growing ACT's party vote to get people like Simon into Parliament this year. I am thrilled to have a fellow engineer standing for ACT. Simon is the face of modern ACT, bringing an environmental perspective backed by having actually done the business solving large scale environmental problems here and internationally. He would raise the standard of environmental debate in parliament overnight."
Simon is a Civil and Environmental Engineer with 23 years experience in roles for the private sector and local government. This includes ten years leading engineering, planning, tendering, and construction teams primarily in Auckland, Wellington, and Fiji. Simon has three boys at high school.
His youngest son has Down Syndrome and Simon intends to take a disability perspective to Parliament.
Simon is the ACT Candidate for Te Atatu, Environment Spokesman, and #5 on the Party List.
Simon is also a keen sea kayaker who regularly paddles the Waitemata and Manukau harbours.