A stream in Whitby ran white last week from paint entering the stormwater system, prompting a reminder from the Greater Wellington Regional Council that roadside gutters are only for the rain.
The Council’s Environmental Protection team were called out to Albatross Close Stream, a tributary of Duck Creek, on Thursday 10 January when nearby residents noticed a paint discharge at a stormwater outlet.
“The source of the paint couldn’t be traced but it probably came from a domestic source such as someone emptying leftover paint or washing their paintbrushes into the roadside gutter,” says Senior Environmental Protection Officer Naomi Middleton, who attended the incident.
“At this time of the year many people are trying to complete their summer DIY projects – but these often involve pollutants like paint, which must be disposed of properly. Paint should never go down roadside gutters because it will drain into the stormwater system and end up in streams and the sea, contaminating the plants and animals that live there.”
Naomi says the correct disposal for small amounts of leftover paint is the wastewater system.
“Put your leftover paint in your laundry sink - this goes for washing paint brushes too and also for ‘green’ or ‘biodegradable’ paint, which is still a contaminant when it gets into the natural environment. And the more diluted the paint is when it goes down the laundry sink, the better.
“Some retailers accept unused or unwanted paint, so that’s another option for getting rid of leftover paint.”
If you see any waste going into the gutter, call the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s 24-hour Environment Hotline: 0800 496 734.