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Stormwater discharge at Port of Tauranga

Thursday, 29 August 2013 4:32 p.m.

This information is to update media and the public on resource consents for stormwater discharge held by the Port of Tauranga.

Most stormwater discharge operations at the Port have a consent

The table below shows the current status of resource consents at the Port. It shows that most stormwater operations have a consent, and that those without a consent make up a small part of overall operations.

The Regional Council is working closely with the Port towards a consent application, and we understand the application will be made as soon as consultation and other requirements are complete.

Discharge point

Consent

Sulphur Point

Yes

Hewletts Road

Yes

Waimarie St

Yes

TCC-owned drains at Mt Maunganui wharves

Yes

Port-owned drains at the Mt Maunganui wharves

No

 

More than 90 percent of Port sweepings go straight to landfill – not even reaching the stormwater drains

Port of Tauranga is a very large site with a complex array of industrial activities and processes. Regional Council and Port staff meet regularly to discuss compliance issues. Council staff have noted significant improvements to Port processes in recent years, including establishment of an ongoing mechanical sweeping programme.

This sweeping programme means than more than 90 percent of Port sweepings (things like bark and wood chips, salt, palm kernel, and stock feed)  are collected and taken off-site for disposal, keeping it entirely free of the drains.

Other actions at the Port include:

  • Storm water ‘catch pits’ that collect waste headed for the stormwater drain; like the sweepings, this waste is collected and taken off-site for disposal
  • Sealing of all wharf and port operational areas
  • Slot drains and eight-screen chambers used for stormwater treatment in higher-risk areas
  • Shade cloth installed to reduce dust beyond the boundary of the Port.

Water quality in Tauranga Harbour is overall very good

Regional Council regularly monitors water quality in Tauranga Harbour. This monitoring shows that water quality in the harbour is overall very good. Recent work has also shown that the ecology near to the Port (Centre Bank) is good with the site having the highest density of pipi recorded in Tauranga Harbour and low levels of heavy metal contaminants.

The Council and Port are working together to ensure the whole site is fully consented

As noted above, most of the Port’s stormwater operations are consented, and there are significant measures in place to reduce the waste that could enter the harbour through the stormwater drains.

The Port still needs a consent for its stormwater discharge at the Port-owned drains on Mt Maunganui wharves. The current status is:

  • Port of Tauranga has adopted a Storm Water Management Plan that requires all operators and contractors to follow Standard Operating Procedures. This was a requirement of their consent application.
  • Consultation with tangata whenua on the cultural impacts of stormwater discharge is almost complete. The Regional Council puts great importance on this, and required this consultation to take place before the Port applied for its resource consent.
  • We understand that we will get a resource consent application from the Port as soon as it has completed its consultation requirements.

The delays that occurred in the past can’t happen under new RMA and Council processes

Port of Tauranga first applied for a resource consent for its unconsented operations in 1998. The Council transferred this application to BECA for processing. We requested return of the application from BECA in 2007, and later requested the Port to provide an updated application under the new RMA requirements. Please note that:

  • The application transferred to BECA was on paper file only. The Council now has an electronic document management system that means all files are automatically scanned on transfer. This means that even if a paper file is mislaid, the electronic copy is available for followup.
  • Our new document system also enables tracking and monitoring of consent applications, so even as staff and managers change there is a consistent and accurate transfer of information.
  • In 2009, changes to the RMA established a much more streamlined process for applications, in response to delays that were causing concern.
Port of Tauranga