The Otara Waterways & Lake project strategic action plan will be up for its second political endorsement at the Howick Local Board’s meeting on Monday 14 September.
The Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board endorsed the plan in August.
A member from each board – Stephen Grey (Otara-Papatoetoe) & Gary Boles (Howick) will facilitate development of the independent trust which is to implement the plan, using $100,000 of local board funding.
Under the plan, the highly polluted Otara Lake & waterway system will be restored & rejuvenated over the next 30 years. The project has been community-led, represented by a steering group that included 28 community, business & council organisations.
Principal council policy analyst Sam Noon has outlined the degradation of the waterways – and over 20 years of plans to restore them – in a report for the local boards.
He said the natural tidal function was disrupted in 1968, when the Electricity Commission built the Otahuhu power station and a weir was built at the point where the Otara Creek meets the Tamaki River: “Significant quantities of zinc, copper & lead have been trapped within the 50ha estuarine lake. The levels of e-coli are 40 times higher than the limits set within the national policy statement for freshwater management. The Otara waterway has been further polluted by stream bank erosion, sediment runoff, litter, road wash, industrial sector pollution & other contaminants.”
The Auckland Regional Council, Electricity Commission & Manukau City Council set out a plan to remediate the lake in 1994, signing a memorandum of understanding, but remediation didn’t proceed.
Community-led activities such as stream cleanup days have been initiated in the Otara stormwater catchment in recent years, delivering short-term benefits, but Mr Noon said they hadn’t been of the scale & intensity required to restore the waterway.
This time, he said, the plan had already encouraged partner organisations to start a number of projects – Highbrook Rotary had initiated the extraction of dumped tyres from the waterway area, the Greater East Tamaki Business Association had asked the Manukau Beautification Trust to label stormwater drains in its industrial precinct, targeting the avoidance of toxic waste spillage.
Mr Noon said independent trusts were an effective way to manage funding: “The establishment of independent trust structures for community-led initiatives fits well with the council’s desire to empower communities and to work collaboratively with other organisations that have shared objectives.”
The steering group wants sediment from individual development sites greatly reduced, and plans drawn up for revegetation sites by 2018. A landscape design programme will be developed to co-ordinate planting, identify linkages & access and provide for safe public space. Auckland Transport will be involved in remediating stormwater from roads with the heaviest contaminant loadings.
Attribution: Board agenda.