Wellington warned of water shortages if usage remains the same

A water management report has warned of future Wellington water shortages if usage and population growth trends remain the same.

A report from council-owned company Wellington Water, which manages water assets for five councils in the region, found if residents kept hosing their gardens and showering like they did now, demand for water would exceed supply in 2040.

The report, discussed by some of the region's mayors and councillors during a Wellington Water Committee meeting on Monday, was a starting point for discussions that would include councils and residents, Wellington Water's group manager for network strategy and planning, Mark Kinvig said.

Wellington Water looked after water assets for the Wellington, Upper Hutt, Hutt City, Porirua and Greater Wellington regional councils.

The report identified three key issues, Mr Kinvig said, the first being that demand for water would exceed supply.

"We know that from our modelling work, and that modelling work takes into account growth and climate change.

"Secondly our water sources and network are vulnerable to earthquakes and climate change as well, in terms of storms, and rising sea levels."

The third was there could be less water available in aquifers and rivers due to tougher environmental rules.

The next step for the organisation is to understand those issues better, then work with councils to come up with solutions. These could include educating the public, a new source of water or more storage, and keeping on top of leaky pipes.

Wellington Water Committee member, councillor Iona Pannett, said potential solutions, like a new dam or water metering, could be contentious.

The committee, which is made up of the region's mayors and councillors, oversees Wellington Water.

"We haven't come up with any definite answer about what needs to be done, but at the very least we do need to start with public education," Ms Pannett said.

Water meters were brought up last year by Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw, after an unusually hot summer saw restrictions enforced across the region earlier than usual.

Mr Laidlaw said it was inevitable meters would be introduced and that these would be likely part of a national approach to managing drinking water.

"There's no question that metering produces savings," he said.

"There are some people who say 'well I don't like water metering because in effect this is the first step towards privatisation'.

"There's no link between water metering and privatisation at all."

The debate around water meters needs to be kept open, he said.

In the meantime, with whatever solutions were found, residents would have to do their part, Mark Kinvig said.

"This is not just down to the actions that we take, and our client councils take. Every Wellingtonian has a role to play to use the region's water in an efficient way."

By Laura Dooney

Tap water Source: 1 NEWS

Officer driving police car involved in Dunedin crash that injured woman and baby possibly suffered medical event

A police car and a school bus have been involved in a five-car crash outside a pre-school in Dunedin this morning.

Police say a police officer and a member of the public are receiving treatment in hospital after the accident at the intersection of York Place and Smith Street at around 8:30am.

They say initial information suggests the male officer who was driving the police car possibly suffered a medical event and the car has collided with the other vehicles.

A woman received moderate to serious injuries and has been taken to hospital. A baby in her care was also checked at hospital but is understood to have minor injuries.

Police are investigating to determine the exact circumstances of what happened.

A witness told Stuff the school bus was empty when the police car crashed into it, with two other cars also colliding.

The accident happened outside an early childhood centre. Source: 1 NEWS


Changes to family violence law strengthens protection of victims

Proposed changes to strengthen the system that deals with violence in families have been announced, with victims to be protected for up to 10 days and dowry abuse acknowledged as a form of violence.   

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the changes to the proposed Family and Whānau Violence law aims to strengthen the legislative foundations of the family violence system.

The changes specify that dowry abuse (where the family of a husband push the wife's family for additional finances post-marriage which can include threatening physical violence) was a form of family violence, it recognises coercion and control is an element of family violence and it also aims to modernise the Domestic Violence Act.

Mr Little said family violence was "far too common" in New Zealand.

"One of the main changes is allowing police safety orders to protect victims for up to 10 days. This will provide victims with more time to put in place safety arrangements at a crucial point in time.

"The Bill will provide mechanisms for earlier intervention and assessment of the risk that a perpetrator will inflict more serious harm," he said. 

Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence) Minister Jan Logie called the changes a "huge opportunity and we must do all we can to make transformational change". 

The new courts in Auckland and Whangārei have been active for the past 18 months.
Source: 1 NEWS


Auckland’s Regional Fuel Tax: Amount of money generated in first month revealed

In its first month of operation, the Regional Fuel Tax has generated $13.2 million (excluding GST).

The figure was released by Auckland Council today.

The first projects made possible by this revenue have already been announced including delivering rural road safety upgrades in Rodney and Franklin, and six new red light safety cameras at dangerous intersections across Auckland.

Building the Matakana link road, funding ferry terminal upgrades and a new bus interchange in downtown Auckland are other early priorities, according to the council.

The council says of the $13.2 million collected from 1–31 July this year, $11 million directly funds critical transport projects across Auckland with a one-off set-up fee accounting for around $1 million, and rebates and service costs accounting for the balance.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says, "with a 78 per cent increase over four years in road fatalities and serious injuries in Auckland, spending on road safety will be an immediate priority from this revenue.

"Aside from road safety spending, the focus of new investment from the RFT is to fix Auckland’s congested transport network."

The tax has added about 11 cents a litre to the cost of filling up. Source: 1 NEWS

Material from soft plastic recycling bins at NZ supermarkets is sitting in storage

The soft plastic recycling scheme, run by the Packaging Forum, has been operating since 2015 and now covers about 70 per cent of the country, with further expansion planned.

The material being put in the bins in supermarkets had been going to a company in Australia, to be turned into things like park benches, bollards and playground equipment.

But the scheme's manager, Lyn Mayes, said the company wasn't taking soft plastic from New Zealand anymore, because it was getting too much.

Ms Mayes said the scheme had been looking for a local company to process it instead.

"We have actually signed a supply agreement with a new company and we'll be making some announcements around that very soon," she said.

In the meantime, a lot of that soft plastic is being kept in storage and stockpiled until it can be recycled, or it is being used in processing trials.

The scheme was also looking at other recycling options overseas, Ms Mayes said.

But she said they had found that processors had become a lot fussier about the quality of plastic they were being sent.

That meant people needed to be much more careful about what they were putting in the bins, Ms Mayes said.

"If people do put in metals, or coffee cups, or drink containers, then that will contaminate the whole bag."

Those bags would not then be collected.

Waste consultant Sandra Murray said part of the problem was soft plastic couldn't be sold to recyclers, unlike other materials, like PET plastic.

"That has a value, you can sell it to someone who wants it, but the soft plastic material doesn't really have much value at all, so either you have to pay someone, or not recycle it."

Ms Murray didn't think people would be too impressed their soft plastic was sitting in storage, waiting to be recycled.

"If people have gone to all this effort, they have an expectation that it is going to be recycled, but if it's just being stockpiled, that's not what people are expecting is going to happen, and if it ends up in landfill because there isn't a proper recycling outlet for it, then that's not what people were expecting either," she said.

Last year, 365 tonnes of soft plastic was collected by the recycling scheme.

That figure was expected to grow to 600 tonnes this year.

The soft plastic recycling scheme got some initial funding from the government, but it is now fully funded by the packaging industry.

By Sarah Robson


The soft plastic recycling scheme, run by the Packaging Forum, has been operating since 2015 and now covers about 70 percent of the country. Source: Facebook / Love NZ Soft Plastics Recycling