Auckland Council’s proactive compliance team has been cracking down on small residential building sites that are not complying with sediment controls that are put in place during the resource consent process.
Sediment controls are designed to reduce the amount of uncontrolled sediment being washed into nearby waterways.
The team’s unannounced visit to three local subdivisions on May 31, resulted in 10 notices of breach, issued for things such as lack of controls or poor maintenance or damage to sediment control structures.
Proactive specialist Graham Jones says the majority of these were in Milldale, although the steep land at Ara Hills has also caused significant issues with sediment. Pacific Heights, which borders Nukumea Stream, had been inspected not long before the May 31 visit and improvements were needed, which is why there was a second visit.
On one Milldalesite, a digger had been driven over a silt fence, flattening it –the discovery of this resulted in an infringement notice.
Jones says the proactive compliance team began work 3-4 years ago, but recently expanded to become its own separate unit. Currently it is inspecting round 800-1000 residential new builds each month, but the special one-day blitz on May 31 involved 400 sites across Auckland.
“We do the stuff that would otherwise go in the ‘too hard basket’,” Jones says. “It’s about education, but also enforcement.”
He has been inspecting small residential construction sites for three years, mainly checking sediment controls but also looking for waste issues on site. He says when he started, the rate of compliance across the city was 10 percent. This has now improved to 70 percent compliance, although Jones says it drops in bad weather – which is of course when sediment controls are most needed.
Asked whether he considers that Council’s sediment control requirements are tight enough, Jones says the current standards are 5-6 years old. He says Council is now beginning to discuss whether they are fit for purpose, partly due to the impact of increasing numbers of storms resulting from climate change.
Further blitzes are planned over the coming weeks and months in an attempt to improve the compliance rate even further.
New housing density rules come into play on August 20 and are likely to see more smaller building sites cropping up around the area.
With no building consents needed to meet new Medium Density Residential Standards compliance officers keeping a closer eye on builds for sediment control will be even more important.
Site Safe and Council recently produced a two hour training programme for builders that covers issues such as sediment and waste control.