Stormwater outflow and our environment
Goal to exceed water quality standards
We’re on a mission to manage the environmental effects of stormwater flowing from urban areas into our waterways. What is urban stormwater? It is rainwater that falls on roofs, footpaths, roads, parks, and fields in urban areas and is carried away via stormwater pipes into water catchments.
We kick-started this process by creating catchment management plans to renew our stormwater consent with Waikato Regional Council. This involves analysing water, wildlife and the urban stormwater catchments. The result is good news because recent data shows very little adverse environmental effects from our urban stormwater outflow.
However, we are not happy with simply meeting the status quo for water quality in urban areas. We have a goal to exceed it. Why? Because we are committed to protecting our precious flora and fauna living in and around Waipa’s lakes, rivers and streams. Our research has identified numerous opportunities to exceed the present urban water quality standard. We’re keen to bring these to life by investing more in stormwater enhancement projects.
Our most recent success story is the rain gardens that filter and purify stormwater from the streets of Cambridge into Lake Te Koo Utu. A raingarden looks like any other traditional garden on the surface, but under the soil, there are layers of various media and plant roots that act as natural filters for surface runoff.
Water services manager Martin Mould said the gardens help provide a place for rainwater to soak into the ground allowing a natural filtration process to remove contaminants such as oil, petrol, zinc and rubber from cars which are collected in rainwater and eventually made their way into the lake. You can read more about the rain gardens here.
The public also needs to do their part by keeping chemicals and pollutants out of urban stormwater drains, including oil, paint, chemicals and rubbish.
“Stormwater drains aren’t wastewater drains. Pollutants flowing into these drains will enter our natural environment and potentially harm wildlife. Only clear, unpolluted rainwater should enter stormwater drains as this water flows untreated into our rivers, lakes and streams,” says Mr Mould.