By Matt Lomas, botanist and Wayby Valley resident
I own an 81-hectare farm forestry block two-kilometres further up Wayby Valley from the proposed landfill site. My section is on similar topography to the dump site – clay on steep rolling (at times vertical) sandstone bedrock, down to silty river banks on the Hoteo River. After rain, the hills produce many intermittent springs.
If you watch the news and weather, you’ll know that the Dome has the highest rainfall north of Auckland, often with continuous thunderstorms and lightning strikes in winter, and up to 200ml of rain in a 24-hour period.
My first concern, with this in mind, is how does Waste Management propose to prevent its lined valley from filling with water and becoming a toxic soup of plastic particles, acids, chemicals, medicines and oils, which will go on to enter the Hoteo River and directly flow into the Kaipara Harbour.
The Hoteo is the third largest river which feeds into the Kaipara, the largest harbour in the southern hemisphere, and the largest snapper and trevally spawning ground in New Zealand – providing 90 per cent of the available catch for the North Island. This is not to mention the oysters, cockles, whitebait, mullet, flounder, eels and other spawning native fish, which thrive in the Kaipara, as well as flocks of seabirds feeding and migrating in the area.
Such is the concern from commercial fishing companies that several years ago they initiated a ‘save the harbour’ campaign and, with council and landowners, have been fencing and planting rivers and streams throughout the area.
Despite all this effort and care, Waste Management now seems to think it is a convenient waste disposal drain.
We know about plastic particles, foams and cleaning products causing sterility to marine species, so why are we allowing a site, which will have deodorants and disinfectants sprayed all over it, to feed into the waterways? I believe they can’t be trusted with our harbour and river’s health, or they wouldn’t be proposing a dump at the very top of a clean watershed.
The extreme instability of the landscape is a key factor here. No method can control the risk of slips on steep sandstone base rock, or prevent the rain from flooding the site. No one would see the leachate being released on dark rainy nights. If the forestry companies have so much trouble stopping slash washing off the very same hills, how does Waste Management think these weather effects will leave the dump unaffected?
I understand the solution to Auckland’s traffic problems lay in the construction of more rail links.
Therefore, surely a sustainable dump/recycling/composting/power station for the future should connect to rail rather than adding 300-plus dump trucks and other vehicles to an already one-and-a-half hour long trip crawling out of the city. This road already carries Northland’s freight, Auckland’s quarry metal, and tourists, leaving little room for all the residents.
Therefore I see a solution – why not add a branch rail line to the Woodhill pine forest, south of Helensville, and south of the Rimmer Road mountain bike area. This rail accessibility would allow rubbish to be supplied to the power station from all over New Zealand, providing free energy and hot water to local industry. The site is at the lower end of the watershed in flat, stable and sandy land – far different to the high rainfall, steep and unstable Dome Valley site.
Finally, Wellsford has just put water supply bores into the very same aquifers that the dump could possibly pollute.
A dump would also detract from potential recreational uses on the Hoteo River, which is a small (two-day) version of the Whanganui River with grade 1 and 2 rapids, flowing through bush and farmland.
The landfill would also destroy any potential to spawn and farm whitebait and eels.
Please let’s not risk New Zealand’s future by polluting the Kaipara Harbour.