Residents see red over green waste

The foreshore of Pounawea where the trees dumped to contain erosion have also led to weed growth
The foreshore of Pounawea where the trees dumped to contain erosion have also led to weed growth

A storm has brewed on the Pounawea foreshore, in the area known as The Elbow.  

For some years now it had been used by residents of the town and beyond to dump green waste, the original justification being to provide a barrier to prevent the sea encroaching on the land and stop erosion.

In recent times complaints, in particular from the South Otago Forest and Bird, alerted the Clutha District Council to this use and they were working on solutions, the first one being to reinforce the No Dumping policy by putting up a fence.

This went up on December 22 and during that night it was cut to allow access again and no doubt to make a point.

One enraged resident, not particularly supportive of one side or the other, called this action ''sheer vandalism''.

The fence had been repaired several times now.

Local resident Linda Mason said she was upset the fence had been cut, feeling that people would blame those who had been trying to keep the dump running.

People in the community were maintaining the green waste area at their own expense and trying to keep the area tidy, she said.

''We wouldn't call ourselves greenies, but we feel we are conservationists, trying to keep our own backyard maintained.''

The argument of Forest and Bird and those involved in waste disposal was that green waste had high nitrogen content when breaking down and this was detrimental to the estuary by encouraging weed growth.  

They also felt it discouraged the use of a walkway in the area and had become unattractive to look at.

Clutha District council manager of district assets Jules Witt said permission had never been given to use the area to dump green waste and when they were advised by the Otago Regional Council of a complaint they took action and put the fence up.

Dumping options in Owaka and Pounawea were limited, with green waste was not accepted at the local transfer station because it is too small to manage it.

The central Mount Cooee landfill was more than 30 kilometres away.

Local solutions would be better and best handled through the forthcoming resource management plan, Mr Witt said.

Shredders were relatively low cost, and a suggestion was made that the community acquire one, he said.

Burning was also a possibility for people outside the towns, though in summer a permit was required.

Mrs Mason welcomed the discussion to be held at the resource management meeting but said ''the council may now have to extend the rock wall, but they will still need something to put it against''.

The Southland Times