For ten years (or more in somes cases), Hastings has dumped its stormwater into the region’s drains and streams without resource consents. During the period from 1998 to 2008 the Regional Council’s database shows that 80 complaints were received and investigated by HBRC compliance officers. Among the highlights of those complaints:
- Of those that could be identified, 45 illegal discharges into the HDC stormwater system were from industrial premises;
- Fifteen illegal discharges resulted in fish kills, predominantly eels;
- 29 illegal discharges were into the Ruahapia Stream, seven into the Southland Drain, less than five were from residential dwellings;
- Ammonia spills from industrial sites such as cool stores, have the most significant impact on aquatic ecosystems.
With HBRC’s “on complaint” system of investigating abuses, it is not unfair to imagine that, if eighty complaints were received, significantly more improper discharges in fact occurred.
Finally in May 2009 HDC submitted a comprehensive application to HBRC for a resource consent. The Regional Council, awakened from its deep sleep on the matter, responded by proposing more stringent conditions on future operation of the HDC stormwater system than Hastings wishes to swallow.
And a serious bun fight has ensued … fortunately in full public view, permitting all players to be held accountable.
The matter now stands before a panel of independent commissioners. Both sides have now made their arguments and counter-arguments (as of April 30), and await the commissioners’ ruling, which might take a month or more.
Neither side smells like a rose on this one. Shame on HDC for ignoring its resource consent and monitoring responsibilities. And shame on HBRC for letting them get away with it for 10+ years. Great job of protecting the environment Councillors!