Waikato people reported 1151 environmental incidents to Environment Waikato in the past year – 157 more than the previous year.
This week’s Regulatory Committee heard that the public reported more incidents involving such things as a dead cow in a stream, pollution or breaches of resource consent conditions. Pollution incidents usually involved unauthorised discharges of contaminants into the environment.
Customer Service and Environmental Monitoring programme manager Junine Reo said there were more incidents reported because the public was more aware and less tolerant of environmental incidents, and greater knowledge of who to contact. More than half – 55 percent – of all complaints concerned air incidents. A total of 623 air incidents were reported, 22 percent of them relating to one piggery.
One odour incident could affect an entire neighbourhood, generating a large number of complaints. Odour was by far the most common complaint, followed by dust, spray drift and burning. However the number of odour incidents dropped slightly. Spray drift continued to be a problem, where weed spray drifted onto neighbour properties.
Discharge of dairy effluent to water was the most common complaint about water, with 42 complaints compared to 67 last year. Stormwater and sewage accounted for 24 percent of water incidents.
Twelve percent, or 143 incidents related to discharges to land, up on last year’s 105 incidents. Most were dumping of soil, paunch contents, sand, concrete, timber preservative, rubbish, and dairy effluent.
Five percent of incidents – 55 – related to coastal issues which were likely to increase when the Council took over navigation safety issues. Eighty four incidents related to lakes and rivers, including dead fish, car bodies, illegal damming of waterways and building of boat ramps.
The Council had a 24 hours a day, seven day response service and responded to high priority incidents within 15 minutes, she said. The introduction of Infringement Notices in February last year had provided a cost effective means of enforcement, and during the year 12 infringement notices, nine abatement notices and one enforcement order were served.
Four prosecutions were taken.
Chairman Jim Howland said staff tried to resolve issues as much as possible without resorting to enforcement action, but sometimes action had to be taken. He said he was pleased with the number of incidents that had been successfully resolved.
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