Sunny days, pohutukawa-lined beaches, swimming, fishing and BBQs – it’s all part of the Auckland summer we have grown up with and enjoyed.
It’s our birthright that we want to hand to our kids and grandchildren, but for a long time swimming at our beaches has been marred by levels of pollution that make it unsafe to swim. When it rains, in many parts of Auckland stormwater flows into wastewater sewage lines, which overflow into our streams and onto our beaches.
This is not a new problem. Auckland has been struggling with this issue for a century, but for too long had left it in the too hard basket. For a world class city, as Auckland aspires to be, and for a country that prides itself on being clean and green, this is no longer acceptable and we are dealing with it.
First of all we have created a new Safeswim system (safeswim.org.nz), making Auckland the first city in New Zealand where you can look at a website and see in real time the swimming conditions at more than 100 different beaches and know where and when it’s safe to swim. More importantly, we are now tackling the causes of pollution. Through a combination of the new Water Quality Targeted Rate and increased capital expenditure,
Council is investing billions of dollars to reduce overflows into our harbours by up to 90 per cent and clean up our beaches. The work is underway and will be completed within 10 years, 20 years faster than under previous Council plans.
Central to improving our water quality is the $1.2 billion Central Interceptor – an immense 4.5m diameter tunnel running 13 kilometres from Western Springs to Mangere. Construction begins this year, and will take six years to complete. At the same time, we have a large number of projects underway to help improve water quality, including a $6 million Northcote water pipeline upgrade, the $18 million Glen Eden wastewater storage tank, the $30 million Fred Thomas Drive pump station and the $535 million Northern Interceptor to increase the capacity of our wastewater network in north Auckland. Importantly for our northernmost communities, this investment also ensures we can accommodate the significant population growth expected in the Warkworth and surrounding areas, which is set to grow by more than 26,000 residents over the next 20 years.
From the Manukau Harbour to Waiwera, Wenderholm and the Mahurangi Harbour, our goal is high water quality standards on our beaches and waterways across the whole region. We have a beautiful environment. We want to protect and enhance it for people to enjoy over the summer holidays, throughout the year and for generations to come.
Phil Goff, Mayor of Auckland