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Greater Wellington Regional Council: ‘Don’t be a tosser’

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s example of rubbish dumping. PHOTOS/FILE

Damage to rivers could be ‘irreversible’

Greater Wellington Regional Council is calling for a unified community effort to protect Wairarapa’s rivers facing constant pollution, contamination, and desecration from ongoing rubbish dumping.

The regional council said in the past year they had conducted 12 site clean-ups of commercial and domestic waste dumped in Wairarapa rivers by “thoughtless members of the community”.

Clean-ups have included removing cars, household waste, concrete rubble and rotting animal carcasses, the regional council said.

Regional council Wairarapa committee chairwoman and councillor Adrienne Staples said the “mindless rubbish dumping” they’d seen happen, especially along Featherston rivers this summer, had been a considerable risk to water health, human health and the precious species that live in and around our rivers.

The gate to access the river on South Featherston Rd had been closed off late last year due to rubbish dumping.

Featherston Community Board chairman Mark Sheppard said at the time that there had been a mix of concrete and general waste dumped at the river site.

Shepherd said solutions had been suggested, including installing a security camera, which he said had worked in Gisborne.

To South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen’s knowledge, the gate to the river had been reopened last month, but it was supposed to be opened by the regional council in December.

Beijen said that it would take public action to stop rubbish dumping, with the other solution being officers that could only be in one place at a time waiting to catch dumpers.

He said the option of officers would cost ratepayers thousands of dollars each.

Staples said, “quite simply, this pollution kills wildlife and stops the community from connecting with our rivers – recreationally, through collecting mahinga kai [wild food] or for general well-being.”

She said the damage to Wairarapa rivers could be irreversible – they would not be the same for future generations if people continued to pollute.

Staples said rubbish dumping was not a behaviour that most people in Wairarapa would tolerate, but it was still happening.

“Unfortunately, the acts of a few cost the whole community.”

Sign at South Featherston
Rd by the river.

Staples said the rubbish dumped in rivers was not ring-fenced, as pollution makes its way downstream and impacts other parts of Wairarapa – leaving a wake of destruction.

“The Wairarapa Moana, a taonga [treasure] that is internationally protected under Ramsar status, is currently suffering further environmental degradation from rubbish dumped in Wairarapa rivers,” she said.

“Rubbish flows downstream and collects in and around the moana, threatening the unique and endangered species that call this place home.”

Staples said it would not only be the environment paying the price from the “careless acts of a few”.

The fee for cleaning up dumped rubbish would cost the council $500 per site clean-up, at a minimum. This would be funded by ratepayers.

Staples hoped the community would rally together to keep one another “in check”.

She hoped dumpers would think about the harm they were causing – not only to the environment but also to the community.

Ongoing rubbish dumping would create a ‘no-win’ situation for the community.

It will eventually lead to preventative measures to stop the pollution, such as installing gate locks to prevent vehicles from driving on to the area and dumping, Staples said.

She reminded the community to use official rubbish disposal options that reduce environmental impact, unnecessary costs and protect the community from hazards and risk.

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