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Different Rules for the City. 24 February 2021

Different Rules for the City. 24 February 2021

Auckland’s politicians have pushed for a rates rise of approximately $106 million to try to fix the city’s sewerage system. This has coincided with release of the data ranking the worst beaches in the region.

They are trying to raise Auckland’s water quality targeted rate (WQTR) by up to 5 per cent every year for the next decade. The WQTR was introduced three years ago to fund the upgrade of Auckland’s stormwater infrastructure which regularly becomes contaminated with sewerage after rain events due to the shared pipes between the two systems.

Recently released data shows that the 10 worst polluted Auckland beaches in 2020 were unsafe to swim, on average, one to two days a week and there are also another seven beaches that have permanent warning signs advising not to swim at any time because of consistently poor water quality.

The push for the increase to the WQTR is being made to fast track the upgrade of Auckland’s sewerage and stormwater systems to bring them up to modern standards. It is expected that this will allow this work to be completed approximately six years earlier than the original WQTR had planned for.

The rates increase has been approved by Auckland Council and if, after public consultation, it is supported by the ratepayers it will be included in the Council’s 10-Year Budget 2021-2031.

 If Auckland City gets ten years to fix a problem that has been ignored for decades, why do I as a farmer, not get the same treatment?

Under the new Freshwater Regulations and Regional Plans I am required to undertake various actions (at my expense) aimed at improving water quality in the region, at my expense.

While I don’t have a problem with undertaking actions to improve water quality I do not understand why there is a difference in the requirements between what is required from the urban area authorities and what is required by farmers.

It is a fact that the most polluted waterways in New Zealand are those in urban areas yet here we have an urban authority being given a long timeframe for upgrading their systems to comply with modern standards while farmers are being required to take action immediately and given very short timeframes to do so in comparison.

 Why is there a different standard being applied?

Across New Zealand there are many urban authorities that have been granted Resource Consents to discharge stormwater and treated sewerage into fresh waterways and have many years to go before they are required to do any upgrades to their systems to meet modern standards yet farmers in those same areas are being required to take action immediately to improve water quality in those same waterways.

Most Farmers have already taken action to improve water quality (for example approximately 95% of waterways are already fenced to provide stock exclusion), and are continuing to do so.

All I am asking for is to have fair and reasonable standards applied to all and for the timeframes for compliance to be the same. Nothing more than a Fair Go.

Andy Loader 

Co-Chairman P.L.U.G.