What you can do

What can I do to improve the state of the river?

Actually, there are quite a few things that one family or company can do that will help the river!

Probably the most effective thing you can do is talk to other people about what is affecting the river.  The greater the number of people who realise what the problem is, the more likely that the city will collectively be willing and able to fix it.

Sediment

It is all about reduction and education: find out why sediment is killing our river!

  • Talk with your family, neighbours and friends about the problem of sediment in the river.  The greater the number of people who understand the issue, and support remedial action, the more likely that action can be taken to fix it.
  • Make sure that there is no sediment running off your property when it rains, especially if you live in a hill suburb. If there is, use planting and mulching, or sediment traps to stop or reduce it as much as possible.
  • Does your property have sediment traps on its drains?  Check that the traps are regularly cleared of sediment and that what is removed does not get washed back into the drain.
  • Check any neighbourhood streams – if they are cloudy/muddy, track the source.  You can use Snap, Send, Solve to report it and have it fixed.

Check out and share this excellent short video about sediment and what you can do about it.

Stormwater

It’s all about slowing, treating and/or using it!

  • You can slow down the release to the stormwater network of the first 5mm of any rainfall, or use it onsite, by:
    • Reducing the area of impermeable surfaces like concrete and asphalt on your property where rainwater cannot soak into the ground.
    • Installing a tank(s) to store water for irrigation and/or washing clothes and/or flushing toilets
    • Diverting the water from your roof and/or hard surfaces into a water garden or swale where it can be absorbed into the ground.  This will reduce dissolved chemicals flushing into the river.

Zinc

It is all about reduction and education about a particularly urban issue: find out we can reduce zinc in our river!

  • Check that your roof, gutters and downpipes have no exposed zinc plating.  If there is exposed zinc, paint your roof and upkeep it to control Zinc. Exposed zincalume is terrible for the river; paint it. Old paint and old colour steel is very bad too. If the paint/colour steel looks tired, paint it. Do not wait and paint just before it rusts. Dissolved zinc is toxic to river biota.
  • Try to drive your car as little as possible.  Not only will this save you money, reduce wear and tear and reduce your carbon footprint, it will lessen the amount of tyre rubber ground off on the roads.  This tyre grit contains zinc oxide which is the second biggest contributor to dissolved zinc in the river.
  • Don’t do burnouts!
  • Use a bicycle, scooter, bus or walk!

Copper

It’s all about getting this out of the environment – it’s toxic to river life!

  • Next time you have your car’s brake pads replaced, ask for pads that do not contain copper. Brake pad dust contributes greatly to copper pollution of waterways.
  • If your roof, gutters and downpipes are made from copper, look to:
    • Replace it with something else, like plastic!
    • Make sure that all run-off from it is contained on-site and treated to remove dissolved copper.
  • If you are about to build, ensure that your architect/draughtsperson knows not to use copper anywhere as a cladding, guttering or downpipe!

Check out the links above and also:

Brake pad pollution

Copper in the Re-Build

E. coli

It is about poo – human, bird and dogs: find out we can reduce E. coli in our river!

  • Get a video check of your house’s sewer lateral.  If it is cracked, you could be putting stormwater into the sewer during rainfall.  Excess stormwater entering the sewer system causes it to overflow into the river during rainfall events.
  • Check that your stormwater from the roof or other surfaces is NOT going into the sewer system.
  • If you have a dog, pick up its poo and take it home!  You can compost it yourself, or put it in your red bin.
  • Don’t feed the ducks!  Especially, don’t feed the ducks bread: not only is the bread not good for the ducks, it makes their poo bad for the river too!
  • Talk to your family, neighbours and friends about the need to reduce wildfowl on the river – particularly Canadian geese.  They foul the river and the riverbanks with large amounts of poo.  It is time that the community gave the Council the licence to cull the Canadian geese.

Check this information:

NZ Stats – E. coli

E. coli sources

Nutrients, chemicals, plastic

It’s all about keeping chemicals out of the environment!

  • Pick up at least five pieces of rubbish from the road gutter or riverbank each day – and put them in your yellow or red bins. This will make a difference.
  • Make sure that when you wash your car, the washed off grime goes on the grass and not down a drain.  Even better, use car wash facilities. It’s not the soap, it’s that road grime and brake pad dust which you wash off which is very high in zinc and copper. You need to stop it getting into the waterways. Car wash facilities have their water going into the sewage system where it is treated and not into stormwater (ie direct to rivers) unlike your drive/roadway.
  • Wash out a paintbrush or roller in a sink so the waste goes into the sewer, or better still, let the paint go hard and put the brush/roller in your red bin.
  • Take any waste oil or paint to the recycle depot.
  • If your car is leaking oil, get the leak fixed quickly.
  • Don’t use spray-on cleaners where the excess/wash off will run into a drain.

Check out this information:

Stats NZ – Nitrogen

PCE – Nutrients