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Forest & Bird is taking legal action against Auckland Council over its plans for pouring stormwater into streams and the sea.

The council has granted resource consent for its own Healthy Waters unit to divert and discharge stormwater across the region for the next 35 years.

Forest & Bird is appealing the council’s consent, because it lacks clear rules that would stop stormwater from damaging streams, the coastal environment and native wildlife, says Forest & Bird Auckland regional manager Nick Beveridge.

Stormwater can contain heavy metals and other contaminants that pollute streams and the sea, he says.

Mud carried by stormwater can wash into streams and bays, coating the sea floor with sediment and suffocating sea life.

“The council has basically given itself a blanket consent to discharge stormwater from its existing stormwater networks and any new networks it might develop within the next 35 years,” says Mr Beveridge.

“This consent is a serious concern because it doesn’t set clear requirements to make sure the council does not damage waterways, the marine environment, or native fish and sea life.”

The council’s stormwater system channels rainwater that is collected from private properties, public reserves and roads.

The system includes 25,000 outlets, 6000 km of pipelines and 900 stormwater detention and treatment facilities. Many of the pipes dump stormwater into streams, rivers or the ocean.

Mr Beveridge is concerned that the council’s consent covers future development in the next 35 years, without adequate environmental protection.

“Auckland has some important ecological areas with rare birds and amazing sea life and we don’t know where the new stormwater discharges will go.

“There could be stormwater discharges from new developments, such as big subdivisions, and we’re worried about the impacts.

“There are not enough conditions in the council’s consent to be sure the coastal environment and significant ecological areas won’t be harmed,” he says.

For further comment, contact Nick Beveridge on 09 302 3901, or email n.beveridge@forestandbird.org.nz.

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