Eastern bays residents doing their bit to protect beach water quality

Smoke test

Popular Auckland beaches are likely to have better water quality this summer as conscientious property owners respond to the call to fix their faulty plumbing.
As part of the Safe Networks programme we run with Auckland Council, Okahu Bay, St Heliers and Mission Bay wastewater and stormwater networks have been put under the microscope over the past few months to identify any drainage problems that could be contributing to poor beach water quality.
Our improvement programme manager David Moore says the work involved a combination of smoke testing in the wastewater network and private property inspections.
“Our crews have visited more than 4000 private properties in the area, and identified issues at more than 200 of them.
“We look for things like roof downpipes incorrectly connected to the wastewater network, wastewater pipes connected to the stormwater network, and vice versa, or low gully traps susceptible to surface flooding.
“All of these can impact water quality at local beaches and waterways. Rain can inundate the wastewater network and cause overflows – that’s why it’s so important to find these issues and get them fixed.”
When a drainage problem is identified, the council compliance team gets in touch with the property owner to outline the issue and ask that it’s promptly fixed.
Moore says the response from the community has been fantastic.
“We’d like to thank the community for their support throughout our investigations – they’ve been really good about allowing us access to their properties for inspections, and a lot of people who’ve been contacted about drainage issues have got onto it straight away to get them fixed.
“Often people have no idea that their drainage is non-compliant and impacting beach water quality, so by getting the issues fixed quickly they’re really doing their bit to protect their local beaches.”
The Safe Networks programme targets strategic locations in Auckland that are known to have issues with water quality. Early next year the programme will move on to Kohimarama.
Moore encourages Aucklanders to check out the Safeswim website before they swim at urban beaches this summer, and to avoid swimming for 48 hours after heavy rain.
“The recommendation to wait 48 hours after heavy rain before swimming at an urban beach is commonplace around the world, and based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation.
“That’s because stormwater can wash all sorts of contaminants – like rubbish, animal faeces and oil from roads – into the waterways, and there’s the increased risk of wastewater overflows.
“The Safeswim website gives you up-to-date water quality information for all the beaches popular for swimming and water recreation, so if in doubt, check safeswim.org.nz before you take a dip.”

Downpipe diagramGully trap