Auckland Council is being told to stop paying lip service to protecting the Hauraki Gulf from sedimentation.
A survey of Silverdale and Long Bay building sites, by Keep Okura Green, found 97 percent were non-compliant and, as a result, ineffective.
The group believes the local survey highlight issues that are happening across the whole of Auckland.
Keep Okura Green chair Peter Townend stood in the Okura River while presenting via video to the Hauraki Gulf Forum on February 28.
“What we’re asking for are some simple steps,” Townend said.
Townend wants to see builders cover their work sites, divert clean water and put up good sediment fences.
“It’s not just builders though. Any disturbed soil should be covered, whether it is on private property or at a landfill.”
Townend said he was extremely disappointed by the survey results.
“An enormous effort was put in to bringing sedimentation to Council’s attention during the Weiti development debate and they acknowledged that something needed to be done.
“Two years on and the situation is worse not better. It is hugely demoralising to see the gulf treated so badly.”
Townend called on Mayor Phil Goff to show leadership before he left office later this year.
“Council needs to enforce its own compliance guidance document, but that direction has to come from the top.”
Forum co-chair Pippa Coom said the report was confronting and she could understand Townend’s frustration.
“Council recruited seven new compliance staff recently, which is just one example of your advocacy working,” she said.
But Townend was not satisfied with the changes.
“The reality is even with those seven people, only 20 percent of the 24-hour working week can be monitored,” he said.
Cr Wayne Walker was concerned by the lack of compliance from construction sites.
“There’s an unwillingness to prosecute and the fines aren’t particularly significant,” Cr Walker said.
“We have a major problem with compliance and enforcement with high staff turnover. That’s not what you want to hear and it’s not good enough.”
At the end of his presentation, Townend dumped a wheelbarrow of dirt into the river to demonstrate what a wheelbarrow load looked like.
He said the group had recorded the equivalent of 50 wheelbarrow loads of sediment coming off one building site in Silverdale, during one rain event.
Water quality analysis done and dusted: Auckland Council staff has suggested that a programme designed to analyse the quality of water leaving small building sites on the Hibiscus Coast should be brought to an end. The Hibiscus and Bays Local Board has funded the programme for the past three years and at a recent workshop, members were updated on its progress. Initially, the work involved water quality testing on small-scale developments (up to 500sqm) that included earthworks permitted under the Unitary Plan. The aim was to gather evidence about which contaminants in local waterways were related to sediment discharges from such sites. The results provided data, but compliance was also part of the mix if deemed necessary. The next steps include more data collection and follow up site visits, until June. The programme now has three years of data and staff recommended to members that once all the results are provided to the local board, the programme should be discontinued.