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Councils join forces to tackle pollution risk

Thursday, 3 October 2013 12:30 p.m.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Whakatāne District Council are joining forces to inspect  industrial sites around Whakatāne which could pollute waterways.

Staff from the District Council’s Water and Waste Team, and the Regional Council’s Pollution Prevention Team will be talking to more than 50 site operators where discharges could affect water quality to discuss their management plans, and identify any potential issues such as run-off to stormwater systems.

Both councils have had to respond to two incidents recently where contaminants have poured into the town’s stormwater system, including a spill of 20 litres of oil into Whakatane’s Sullivan Lake through stormwater pipes in August.

Regional Council Project Implementation Officer Reece Irving said the two-week project will enable both councils to identify and discuss potential issues with business operators, helping them to establish better management and mitigation plans.

“We can also map and define where discharges to both land and water might come from,” he said.

“The Regional Council has undertaken combined audits with Tauranga, Rotorua and Western Bay of Plenty councils which have led to improved business practices in those districts. Pollution incidents have decreased from those commercial and industrial sites, which means a cleaner environment and less burden on ratepayers who have to fund the clean-up of untraced industrial spills.”

“We can suggest improvements to business practices so the risk of contaminated discharges can be controlled and managed,” he said.

Following the initial visits to high-risk sites, inspections will be done through November of other industrial sites.