Jump in environmental complaints

Scott MacLean.
Scott MacLean.
Reports of environmental incidents in Otago have jumped to record levels as more residents complain to the Otago Regional Council.

Yesterday a council committee discussed a report showing there had been 1913 environmental complaints in the last financial year.

That was an increase of 600 on the average for the 10 previous years.

Of those, 44% of complaints related to fresh water pollution and 31.5% to air issues.

There were 841 fresh water issue complaints, up from last year's 487 and 388 the year before.

Cr Michael Deaker said at a recent hui for the Kaikorai Stream he was told by people including council staff of incidences of paint and cement being deposited in the stream.

''Which is appalling really. I remind you the river flows through residential, industrial and recreational areas into a very important estuary. It's a very significant fresh water waterway to this city.''

Cr Gretchen Robertson said the council needed an update on the stream's health.

Cr Doug Brown said the stream was in a bad state, but he imagined it was ''tracking in the right way''.

The committee asked for a water health case study on the stream.

Environmental Monitoring and Operations director Scott MacLean said he did not know the exact reason behind the increase in reported incidents. It could be that people becoming more aware of or less tolerant of environmental issues.

It was important to note multiple complaints could be made about the same issue, he told the council.

The report also showed 48% of water meters audited were found to be grade 4 or 5, which were the worst two of five grades.

It was of ''some concern'' to staff some meters were not installed correctly, or were in the wrong location, so they could monitor water takes incorrectly, the report said.

The consent holders were advised to rectify the problems with their installers.

Of all audits, which includes dairy, water meters, structures and discharge and water take, 22% of the equipment was either grade four or five.

Cr Michael Laws said this seemed ''very high''.



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