As we write, Napier’s Ahuriri Estuary has just completed eleven days of lockdown – i.e., don’t swim or gather food there – because of sewage overflows into that water body.

Hopefully you can swim this weekend. But do you want to be first to jump in?!

The situation is shameful, but because of decades of infrastructure neglect by previous NCC decision-makers, the Estuary’s pain and suffering will repeat again and again for years.

To its credit, the current NCC regime has allocated nearly $190 million in its Long-Term Plan for water system repairs and upgrades over the next decade ($42.3 million of that for stormwater fixes).

Back on 24 January, the Napier City Council issued a media release titled, ‘Smart manholes’, noting that “Across Napier, 50 manholes are getting their own ‘brains’. Sensors are being installed inside manholes to warn Council staff when a drain is getting too full, or reaching its capacity.” 

“Thanks to the sensors we’ll know there’s an issue before it’s an issue!” explained Paul Davison, the engineer leading the project. “Before this we’ve been blind to what’s happening minute by minute, area by area in the underground network. This will give us pre-emptive info so we can act immediately.”

In other words, NCC will be able to put up its ‘Don’t’ Swim’ warning signs sooner!

Presumably, for $42.3 million the people of Napier and the region’s treasured Estuary will get more than smart manhole covers and earlier warnings their streets and waterways are about to be full of sewage.

What we need to see is the workplan – with specific milestones along the way, reviewed regularly – that commits to ending sewage discharges into the Estuary by a date certain we can all mark on our calendars.

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  1. Absolutely. I think its criminal that in 2022 the NCC get away with their system or lack of, how to keep sewage out of our seas, rivers and estuary. What is going on!
    Our council for many years now seems to have little regard for the wellbeing of the planet. I just dont get it.
    For example while we’re on the subject, Why are glorious old trees, which we need more of, systematically culled in this city. Where is the shade! Hwre are the streetscape in closing trees. There should be in my opinion a by law preventing people from removing large trees in there own back yards, property developers etc removing trees without regard for the whole community. Hello, Global warming!
    When will we see an enlighten council who actually cares about these issues. Someone in power please help!

    1. what a great idea. lets have laws telling people what they can and can’t do in their own back yard. Guessing you love this nut job government and all their controls over everyone. You can give your freedoms and rights away but not mine, as they belong to me and I want to keep them. your backyard, you do as you please and let me do as I please in mine.

      1. Agree with you 100%. But Marie has one good point about the trees. It was heartbreaking to see the council swoop in and chop down every single one of the beautiful trees in our street without the residents having any say in the matter. Where is the accountability for all of the rediculous changes being made to our environment. (And our roads).

  2. My thoughts entirely! Where’s the ‘workplan’? The NCC Environmental Solutions team go out and deal with the waterway spills, do regular monitoring, give us the warnings, and provide reports. I’d realised gradually I’d been missing the information about the structural plans that would give hope for change. (I don’t mean the new wetland idea). I mean the timeline of the physical solutions, the detail of where the NCC are ‘doing’ improvements and upgrades, and as you say ‘ the workplan’. Why are we not seeing that???

  3. Unfortunately Napier and most other municipalities in NZ do not recognize that storm water is contaminated. In reality the total annual pollutant discharge from urban storm wastewater is similar to the annual pollutant discharge from urban sanitary wastewater. By only addressing half of the pollution discharge to our waterways Napier and other municipalities have decided not to deal with the contamination of streams and estuaries. Hence I support the 3 Waters initiative of the government because there is no evidence that Napier or and other NZ municipality has any serious plan to address the negative effects of urban storm wastewater discharges into the environment

    1. there is no evidence that a central system will work either. when we have people in Wellington making decisions for Napier that is going to work really well for Napier. Better to let locals sort local issues, just need funding from central government to achieve this, but apparently Maori need their own health system and the mongrel mob need more $$ and that is way more important

  4. Storm water system is key in a low lying city close to the sea such as ours … swale areas and storm water ponds supporting our system are missing and our community needs to look inwards for positive endorsement of the change needed to get the best possible outcomes community and environment … come on lets sought it …

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