Aucklanders can now enjoy the benefits of better water quality with the completion of the Ōkahu Bay stormwater network separation project. The project, to separate stormwater from wastewater pipes, will directly improve the water quality in Ōkahu Bay, and the wider Hauraki Gulf.
The project’s construction commenced in October 2019 to improve water quality by reducing wet weather wastewater overflows. Construction involved extending and upgrading existing ageing stormwater pipes and connecting properties to the stormwater system.
Prior to this project, water quality has been poor in the Ōkahu Bay catchment and during rainfall the combined stormwater and wastewater systems would frequently become overwhelmed and spill wastewater into the environment.
Before this project finished, there had been up to 22 wet weather overflows a year during 2019-2021 from one of the engineered overflow points. Since the project has been fully completed, there has been one wet weather overflow from this location recorded in the last few months.
Ōrākei Ward Councillor Desley Simpson explains that the “regionally funded project was enabled through the last 10-year budget’s Water Quality Targeted Rate and is the first step towards improving water quality in our area.
"While we still have a long way to go, it’s important to acknowledge the completion of a project that was one of the very first initiatives to be funded as part of the Water Quality Targeted Rate.”
With the completion of the Ōkahu Bay stormwater network separation project, beachgoers can expect to see more swimmable days as water quality conditions improve and the risk of wastewater overflows is reduced. There will be a period of monitoring over the coming 12 months to determine if any further upgrades are required.
Since the beginning of the project, the team has engaged with the owners of more than 350 properties; with 200 private properties having their drainage systems separated to connect to 3.4 km of newly installed public stormwater pipeline.
Ōkahu Bay has cultural and historical significance, as well as being a popular recreational and swimming spot. The completion of this project will help future proof the growing neighbourhood, which has several new housing developments planned and underway.
Ōrākei Local Board Chair, Scott Milne is pleased with what’s been achieved so far. “We need to acknowledge that this is the start of a multi-billion-dollar strategy and workstream to ‘Clean the East’. I am looking forward to seeing the benefits of this investment this summer with much more to come in the pipeline given the Governing Body’s support of area and plan via the Water Quality Targeted Rate”.
Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters project manager Sri Pulla said the ongoing support of the Ōkahu Bay community enabled its successful completion. The project has had a considerable impact on the community with works inside private properties, road and walkway closures, and general traffic disruption and management.
He says “I want to personally thank the project team and the Orakei and Ōkahu Bay community for the huge support and co-operation during this project. It would not have been as much of a success without the community’s tolerance, and understanding of the importance of this water separation work.”
The Ōkahu Bay Stormwater project, a partnership between Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Watercare and Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters, cost around $16 million and was partly funded by the Water Quality Targeted Rate.