Stormwater bylaw likely in clean water fight

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2014

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Hamilton City Council is investigating whether a stormwater bylaw could give it more clout to deal with Waikato River polluters.

Council's strategy and policy committee this week agreed to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of having a stormwater bylaw, with staff saying it would give them "the best tools in the toolbox" to deal with river polluters.

The city council holds a comprehensive stormwater discharge consent which requires it to manage activities within the city to reduce the risk of contaminants entering waterways.

A staff report said the lack of a stormwater bylaw meant the council was not able to appropriately address or mitigate issues related to the stormwater network.

This created a "significant risk" the council might not be able to meet the conditions of its consent.

In 2012, the council's stormwater network came under intense scrutiny after a string of spills into the river.

In one incident, hydrocarbon was seen spilling out of a stormwater outlet near Arcus St in Hamilton while on another occasion a plumbing fault at Hamilton's Tower building caused hundreds of litres of oil to pour into the river.

Council's city waters manager Andrew Parsons said a bylaw would give staff the best tools to manage its consent as well as more options to deal with any polluters who weren't co-operative.

A bylaw would be more a management tool than an enforcement tool, he said.

Councillors asked staff to draft up a statement of proposal to make a new bylaw and present back to a council workshop in April.

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said it was important the council was seen to be proactive not reactive in managing its stormwater network.

If the regional council did try and hold the city council to account for a spill from the network, having a bylaw would be a "significant factor in our favour," she said.

Councillor Dave Macpherson said he wasn't convinced a bylaw would enhance the council's ability to prevent any environmental damages, adding having a piece of paper did not change "diddly-squat".

Greater improvements could be achieved through education, Mr Macpherson said. 

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- Waikato Times

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