Concrete activities blamed for 600% increase in water pollution incidents
The Auckland Regional Council is cracking down on concrete contractors to prevent water pollution and protect native
fish from ‘death by concrete.’
Over the last four years there has been a 600 per cent increase in water pollution incidents caused by concrete
activities such as laying concrete, washing cement from exposed aggregate driveways, cutting concrete and washing
concrete equipment and tools.
This week the ARC Pollution Response Team sent information to over 1000 businesses and individuals who work with
concrete, as part of an education project aimed at increasing awareness of the environmental effects of concrete, and
what can be done to prevent it.
Concrete and cement products contain burnt lime, which dissolves in water and produces a strong alkaline solution that
kills fish and insects through chemical burns. The Pollution Response Team has found that 30 per cent of all fish kills
are due to concrete wastewater.
Chair of Environment Management Committee, Dianne Glenn, says greater care needs to be taken when dealing with concrete
“Auckland is experiencing a building boom which places more pressure on the environment. The ARC provides educational
material and practical solutions to concrete contractors so that they may avoid discharges. If you are hiring a concrete
contractor ask to see their environmental policy and tell them you will not tolerate any discharges to the environment,”
said Cr Glenn.
Pollution Response Team Leader Rowan Carter, says the contractors can avoid fines of up to $1000 or prosecution by
adopting the cost effective alternatives the ARC has developed in partnership with the concrete industry. “Whatever goes
down a stormwater drain flows untreated into urban streams and our harbours. Stormwater drains are found outside on
driveways, in roads, yards and carparks. The only thing that should go down a stormwater drain is rainwater,” said Mr
Auckland has approximately 1,300 urban streams which are home to a variety of aquatic life, such as the native trout
kokopu and inanga, and their young known as whitebait.
The public can report any instances of concrete washing or any other discharges of pollution to stormwater drains and
waterways by calling the ARC 24 hour Water Pollution Hotline on 09 377 3107. If you require a concrete information
sheet, please contact Pollution Response Team Leader, Rowan Carter.