Watercare and the Healthy Waters (stormwater management) department of Auckland Council, have begun making changes to their long-term strategies with climate change in mind.
At the Environment and Climate Change committee on July 7 both discussed how they were looking to reduce emissions.
The changes follow concerns expressed by councillors last year that Watercare was not looking to reduce emissions in its Long Term Plan.
Watercare’s head of sustainability, Chris Thurston, said they were expecting emissions to rise over the next three years but with the new strategies a steep decline would be expected to follow.
Thurston said the emphasis is on wastewater management when reducing emissions.
One way that Watercare could reduce waste emissions is through “thermal hydrolysis” – a process that combines heat and pressure to treat bio-waste, Thurston said, adding that
Watercare is reviewing materials and techniques to reduce infrastructure emissions.
“We will be looking to reduce emissions by using existing infrastructure, which may reduce emissions by 60 percent,” Thurston said.
Mayor Phil Goff asked Thurston if it was possible to reduce the use of steel and concrete – or use alternative materials.
Thurston said that they were currently exploring options such as “adding materials such as pumice to concrete to reduce volume.”
Healthy Waters’ zero carbon team principal Leigh Steckler said they are looking to maximise carbon capturing.
Steckler pointed to planting, making changes to infrastructure design and trialling non-drinking water reuse as ways to reduce emissions.
Cr Linda Cooper asked how the work from Healthy Waters and Watercare would function under the government’s Three Waters Reform, which will take water management out of council’s control.
Chair Richard Hills said no matter what happened going forward a new entity would have information available to them.
Submissions closed on government’s water services entities bill under the Three Waters Reform on July 22.