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Through the development of the Three Waters Strategy Dunedin residents identified that storm water quality was a significant community concern. Subsequently, the Council made a strategic commitment to improve the quality of its discharges to minimise the effects on the environment.
In adopting the Three Waters Strategy, the Council committed to the following priorities and objectives relevant to storm water quality:
* To improve the quality of our discharges to minimise the impact on the environment by resolving all known cross-connections between the foul and storm water networks by 2015 and have an on-going programme to disconnect the systems as new issues are identified;
* To reduce the contaminant load of our storm water by using source control where practical; or otherwise consider effective stormwater treatment;
* To limit cost increases to current affordability where practical; and
* To adopt an integrated approach to management of the three waters and embrace the concept of Kaitiakitaka.
On Tuesday 29 May 2012, the DCC submitted its application to the ORC for 35-year consents to continue the discharge of storm water to the marine environment.
Over the past four years, the DCC has developed integrated catchment management plans as part of the Three Waters Strategy. Through this process the current performance of the city’s storm water system and its predicted future performance against a range of future scenarios has been assessed. Extensive research on the impacts of the city’s storm water on the receiving environment has also been undertaken. Different options for the future management of our storm water have been assessed.
The DCC’s approach in developing the catchment management plans is consistent with leading practice both in New Zealand and overseas. The conclusions that have been drawn, and the management approaches identified, are reflective of Dunedin’s unique situation, our history and environment.
A comprehensive action plan has been developed and already some changes and improvements to the way we operate have been made. The DCC has also been able to consider the costs and benefits of different actions that relate the strategic objectives across the Three Waters to ensure delivery of the greatest benefits for the available funds. Already $2.6m of funding has been committed in the period 2011/12 to 2013/14 for improvements to discharges, through operational and maintenance initiatives, as well as targeted renewals of wastewater networks to prevent overflows during wet weather. This excludes the significant investment in the upgrade of the Tahuna wastewater treatment plant.
Some of these improvements are already underway and as part of this process, the Council will shortly be considering whether to develop a Storm Water Bylaw to ensure that those that discharge storm water into the city’s network do so in an appropriate and responsible way.