Building sites have been in the spotlight for Auckland Council’s Proactive Compliance team.
They’ve stepped up monitoring of smaller building sites that would not otherwise be monitored or inspected, as they seek to reduce the amount of uncontrolled sediment being washed into the city's waterways and surrounding harbours.
It’s two years since the Closing the Gap initiative was introduced, funded through the Water Quality Targeted Rate but the success of the project has seen it become a regular occurrence.
“The intent of the project was to close the gap between a building consent being issued and the first inspection by a council building inspector,” says Adrian Wilson, Manager of Proactive Compliance.
“This period is when the site is at its most vulnerable; the vegetation has been stripped away, foundations dug exposing bare earth and when rain events cause the most significant run off,” he adds.
Pre monitoring, around 89 per cent of smaller sites lacked proper erosion control; since increasing proactive monitoring, this had dropped to just under 20 per cent non-compliance on the first visit This is a significant turnaround in compliance rates
“With up to 12,000 new builds each year the cumulative risk of sediment discharge into Auckland’s waterways and coastal areas is significant, says Councillor Linda Cooper, Chair of the Regulatory Committee.
“Sediment is one of the biggest issues for our harbours, impacting everything from fish stocks to shellfish beds, and the increase level of mud at inner-city beaches. We need builders and developers to step up and be responsible on their sites without us having to issue abatement and infringement notices.
“Already this initiative is paying dividends; in the last 18 months the compliance rate has jumped from 60 per cent on the first visit to 80 per cent. This increase in compliance ultimately benefits the environment and our waterways.”
Closing the Gap project recently coordinated a regionwide blitz on small building sites to coincide with increased rainfall expected during autumn and winter, visiting nearly 600 over a two-day period. Compliance across the sites was high with 82 per cent meeting the required standard.
Further blitzes are planned over the coming weeks and months in an attempt to improve the compliance rate even further.