Water quality monitoring and response during lockdown
During the heightened national response to Covid-19, our top priority is providing clean drinking water and safe wastewater treatment to our community. We are concentrating our resources on these essential services and on keeping our frontline teams, who maintain them, safe and healthy. In this context, our water quality monitoring and response activity is being temporarily scaled back.
If there is an event that causes a significant risk to public health or the environment (e.g. a blocked wastewater main overflowing into the stormwater) our crews will always respond urgently. However our work to investigate sources of background contamination (e.g. private cross-connections) within the network will be paused while we are under Covid-19 lockdown conditions. This is both to ensure we have additional crew resources to respond to any urgent issues, and because it is inappropriate for our crews to be entering private property and approaching residents to investigate cross-connections at this time.
We remain committed to working with our stakeholder councils and the community to look after the health of our urban waterways and keep our beaches swimmable. We will still sample and test the water at streams and beaches across the region regularly, and monitor the results. As New Zealand emerges from lockdown conditions, we will reassess our water quality monitoring and response resources, and provide an update as to when activity can return to pre-Covid-19 levels.
What this means for our water quality monitoring programme
Our regular water quality monitoring across the region is continuing as normal throughout the national response to Covid-19. This programme consists of:
- Global Stormwater Consent (GSC): monthly sampling of 146 coastal and freshwater sites
- Recreational Water Quality, aka ‘Baywatch’: fortnightly sampling of 11 recreational beach sites during winter (April – Oct), expanded to 33 sites sampled weekly over summer
- Freshwater monitoring: monthly sampling of 15 streams and other freshwater sites, (in addition to those that are part of the GSC)
- Overflow monitoring: Continuous online monitoring at 190 wastewater pump stations and 51 constructed overflow sites