Pippa Coom: Targeted rates doing their work

The outside activities we can enjoy within the Auckland region have never been as important while we remain in lockdown and as we plan for an uncertain summer.

Thanks to targeted rates supported by Aucklanders three years ago a huge amount of work has happened to enhance and protect our beaches, waterways and our open spaces.

Auckland Council was initially investing $763m in protecting the natural environment and cleaning up waterways over the ten years 2018-2028. Last year’s Recovery Budget extended the time frame to 2031, adding an additional investment of $107m into environment and $218m into water quality outcomes.

Three years on from the introduction of the natural environment and water quality targeted rates, work continues to deliver positive outcomes for the city. Council has invested a further $325 million into work to protect our environment and native species, and clean up our waterways, bringing our total investment to more than $1 billion over the next 10 years.

Despite the Covid-19 effect, we’ve still managed to upscale the work programme to control pest plants and animals, upgrade tracks to help reduce the spread of kauri dieback, and maintain our support for community conservationists. And we’ve made progress in delivering water quality projects to help prevent wastewater and sediment contaminating our waterways and urban beaches.

Projects to protect kauri, prevent invasive pests finding a home on our offshore islands, and celebrating the certification of our first kauri dieback detector dogs are just some of the successes. Many of the conservation efforts are in partnership with community groups and volunteers. The St Mary’s Bay Association and Herne Bay Residents Association were instrumental in securing the funding from the targeted rate for the separation of local sewage and stormwater pipes.

Healthy Waters has delivered the first major infrastructure projects to help improve water quality across the region.

St Marys Bay stormwater tunnel, the Daldy St outfall and Ōkahu and Freemans Bay stormwater separations are all contributing to cleaner water in the Waitematā Harbour.

Year three targeted rate highlights:

· 33.6km across 13 tracks reopened in regional parks – 146 per cent of the programme target

· 80,500 hectares of pest animal control delivered across the region

· Feral pigs on Waiheke and Argentine ants on Aotea are tracking towards eradication status

· We awarded $650,000 from the pilot Community Coordination and Facilitation grant to 44 community groups

· Our Tiaki Tāmaki Makaurau / Conservation Auckland website received more than 80,000 page views in its first year

· Water quality improvement projects at St Marys Bay, Ōkahu Bay, and Freemans Bay, with 3700+ properties now being serviced by upgraded networks

· 190 hectares of stormwater catchment has been inspected to find wastewater entering our waterways

· 5977 onsite wastewater inspection records checked for compliance

· Four teams are currently deployed under the 2 in a Ute programme, which pairs an experienced contractor with a local trainee to manage water-sensitive assets in their area

· 5929 site visits carried out at building sites as part of the Closing the Gap programme to protect out waterways from sediment, with 739 infringements issued for non-compliance.

Credit to Aucklanders for supporting these important investments through targeted rates that are really working. (PIPPA COOM)


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Published 5 November 2021