I'm a Resident

Te tokonga roa me te hapori

Sustainability and community

Our aim is for the people of Auckland to have access to clean and healthy water now and in the future. This means we need to look after our environment, respond to climate change, and support our local people and communities.

Our sustainability approach

We’re faced with increasing demand for water, so putting sustainability at the heart of all we do benefits both the environment and the people we serve, while preserving this resource for future generations. Our duty is to:

  • Treat and supply the water that nature provides.
  • Treat wastewater to a high standard to protect Auckland’s environment.

We need to keep our harbours, estuaries and freshwater ecosystems healthy so you can continue to enjoy a safe, clean environment and trust the water you’re drinking and using for your business.

Looking after the environment

We’re reducing the impact of our activities and helping restore Auckland’s environment. From giving fish a helping hand to reusing biosolids, restoring habitats and recycling and composting our office waste, we work hard to enhance nature and protect biodiversity. Here are some examples of our initiatives:

  • We plant native trees and shrubs along Auckland’s waterways to restore natural habitats and prevent erosion and run-off.
  • Our project to regenerate native forest in the Hūnua Ranges is helping to protect the quality of water in our dams.
  • We sponsor a handful of schools to participate in the Trees for Survival programme growing and planting native trees.

Our water use and infrastructure puts pressure on the health of our environment, plants and animals. Dams restrict the natural flow of water, so we use compensation flows and flushing to mimic rainfall and storm events. They also create an obstacle to fish and eel species that migrate between the sea and freshwater.

To help the migration process continue, we’ve created a trap-and-haul programme to capture and transfer incoming young eels and whitebait in the Hūnua and Waitākere ranges from the bottoms of our dam spillways to the top. Mature eels also need to complete their life cycle by migrating to waters as far away as Tonga to breed, so each season we capture and release migrators further downstream so they can reach the sea unimpeded. Overall, we move around 10,000 fish per migration season. Our dams offer a special haven to native fish species as they’re located within protected catchments surrounded by native bush where fishing is banned. With around three-quarters of our native freshwater fish at risk of extinction, they need all the help we can give them.

How you can help our environment

Save water at home and outside

Get tips for how to use water wisely and reduce wastage, saving money and helping future generations.

Teach kids about water

Teaching kids about our environment can set them up for a lifetime of conservation.

Prevent overflows at home

Learn how you should dispose of fats and other ways of preventing overflows to look after our environment.

Supporting local communities

We believe in supporting our local communities. We do this by partnering with schools and local groups on environmental projects, education and getting kids outside.

Watercare Coastal Walkway

We support a 7km coastal pathway along the edge of Manukau Harbour, rich in bird and plant life and cultural history.

Trees for Survival

See how kids are planting native trees in the Hūnua ranges to restore natural habitats and improve water quality.

Ecomatters Trust

We partner with Ecomatters to provide free home water-use checks to help Aucklanders save water and money.

How climate change will affect our water

Climate change is one of the largest challenges we face as a business, people and country. As impacts are often seen through water, we’ll face them earlier and more directly than most, especially with Auckland’s growing population and economy increasing the demand for water. Climate change will cause more frequent droughts and flooding, and rainfall will be a less reliable source of water. More days with hotter temperatures and longer dry spells will increase the need for water, while the structures that are a part of our water and wastewater systems will be affected by flooding and sea level rise. The future of our water depends on the decisions we make now to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of growth and climate change. To align our team, stakeholders and the people of Auckland, we’ve created a climate change strategy and policy:

  • Climate change strategy: Sets out our future direction to operate a low-carbon organisation that’s resilient to climate impacts
  • Climate change policy: Communicates to staff and suppliers how they’re expected to contribute to our climate change goals
  • Climate change summary: Helps to clearly communicate the challenges we face, our ambitious targets and our work plan

Our goals to reduce the impact of climate change are:

  • reach net zero emissions by 2050
  • reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 50 per cent by 2030
  • reduce built carbon from infrastructure by 40 per cent by 2025.

Water Efficiency Plan

We’ve set targets in partnership with Auckland Council to improve water efficiency across the region in all aspects of water usage.

Our 2023 Climate Report

Our aim is for net zero emissions from Watercare’s operations by 2050. We’re tracking our carbon footprint and progress towards the goal annually.

Reducing our impact on the climate

We have ambitious targets to reduce our carbon emissions and aspire to be a leader in energy management.

  • Here are the projects helping us meet these goals.
  • Revegetation in the Hūnua Ranges
  • Solar power pilot schemes at a pump station near Pukekohe Wastewater Treatment Plant, Redoubt Road water reservoir and Wellsford Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Converting 30 per cent of our fleet cars to electric vehicles
  • Plans and progress to make the Māngere and Rosedale wastewater treatment plants energy neutral by 2025, a world-first initiative a plant the size of Māngere

The 40/20/20 vision for our capital works programme, which aims to reduce our infrastructure carbon by 40 per cent, reduce our costs by 20 per cent, and have a 20 per cent year-on-year improvement in health and safety outcomes

An energy policy setting out targets and expectations for staff and suppliers in energy management

Growing bacteria to help convert nitrogen in wastewater in an efficient new way. This will significantly reduce our power demand and increase the energy we produce from biogas.

Listening to the people of Auckland

Water affects everyone in Auckland, and we have an obligation to listen to people’s needs. We believe the best results come when we engage with the public, community groups and mana whenua to understand opportunities, get feedback and build trust.

When building new infrastructure, we consult with affected stakeholders, iwi and communities about statutory processes, and as projects get underway, we continue connecting with people to reduce the disruption caused by construction. Many treatment plants also have special requirements for ongoing community liaison, and we regularly meet to share information and discuss local issues. The Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum is a key stakeholder group we meet with quarterly to consult on projects and broaden our view on how our water can be managed.