Residents want action to save their creek

'Beautiful' stream threatened by developments

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 09:14 16/05/2014
Fergus Murray
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ
A BRIDGE TOO FAR: Concerned resident Fergus Murray at Murphy’s Creek, which nearby residents believe to be at risk from new developments.

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Springlands residents are working to protect a creek from being further damaged by stormwater from nearby developments.

Murphy's Creek is spring-fed, with springs along its length feeding into it. Residents are upset that the Westwood Retail Development and planned housing subdivisions have led to stormwater being piped into the creek, and believe silts and pollutants have affected its quality.

They want the Marlborough District Council to clean up the way it gets rid of the excess water, saying it has caused flooding in the creek, damaged the water quality and killed off fish and eels.

Resident Fergus Murray, who lives beside the creek, said the council should put the stormwater directly into the Taylor River instead.

"It's a beautiful stream. It's terrible to turn it into a drain."

Forty-seven families living alongside the creek have organised themselves and made submissions to the council's draft annual plan. They estimated piping the stormwater directly into the Taylor River, rather than feeding it into Murphy's Creek by Middle Renwick Rd, could cost $2.3 million. Residents tried to talk to the council about it last year, but were asked to wait until after the election, which they did. Then they were asked to wait until after the first full council meeting in February.

That was pushed back to September and residents were told it might take eight years before something was done, Murray said.

"That got right up my nose . . . Imagine how this creek could degrade in eight years."

Council assets and services manager Mark Wheeler said when Westwood was built, its developers worked with council engineers to deal with the stormwater from the site. Westwood had consents for that, which included a pipeline into Murphy's Creek.

However, if Westwood grew further and a proposed housing development happened at the northwest of Blenheim, more capacity would be needed for stormwater. This would require a new resource consent for a larger pipeline into Murphy's Creek. The council first raised this with residents about a year ago, Wheeler said.

The council did not think the stormwater was causing flooding, it was concerned about water quality and had asked the Cawthron Institute to analyse water quality, he said.

A flow and quality recorder had been put in the creek and data was being collected and analysed. That would not be available until September, so the council was holding off until then. The new housing development was not likely to happen for some time, so the pressure was off to do anything in a hurry, he said.

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"We shouldn't make this decision lightly. We need the facts and all the research. Residents are pushing for councillors to make that decision now and I can understand that . . . but we shouldn't rush this decision."

Residents are holding a public meeting at 1pm on May 24 at the Springlands Tavern. More than 20 submissions have been received by the council on the issue.

- The Marlborough Express

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