Rubbish dumping and driving on berms damaging Hutt River
Despite over 1 million recreational users of the Hutt River last year, Greater Wellington Regional Council is continuing to struggle with people using the site as their own personal dumping ground.
Mike Jensen, of Greater Wellington Flood Protection Rivers Team, has worked at the Council for 38 years and says rubbish dumping in the river has been a longstanding issue.
"There is a lot of domestic rubbish that ends up in the river including asbestos, couches, carpet, rubbish bags, green waste (including pest plants) and appliances such as fridges and washing machines.
"We have found piles of tyres, truckloads of concrete from commercial dumpers, and we get about 30 to 40 cars turn up along the river each year," Mike says.
The Greater Wellington Flood Protection team does regular rubbish runs in the area which can end up costing a significant amount.
"The cost of staff time, machine time to collect the rubbish and then tip fees all end up costing ratepayers. For members of the community it is just the cost of compliance."
Greater Wellington works closely with Hutt City Council and Upper Hutt City Council on the issue of rubbish dumping, Mike explains.
Another major issue affecting the river is people driving on the berms and tearing up the grass not being aware that the berms are extremely important for flood protection.
"If the grass by the river is disturbed, a flooding event can create big holes. It's a small percentage of the community that want to use their vehicle to damage the berms but this can create big challenges for Greater Wellington who work hard to protect the environment."
Temporary blocks have been put in place to stop people from driving on the berms but Mike says the biggest challenge is educating people on caring for their environment.
"The illegal dumping of rubbish and deliberately damaging berms can lead to prosecution, but our first priority is education.
"We have a really lovely recreation area here for everyone to enjoy but there are a few people spoiling it for everyone else. People just aren't willing to put up with this kind of behaviour anymore."
If you see someone dumping rubbish or deliberately damaging the berms along the Hutt River, you can call (04) 384 5708 or freephone 0800 496 734.
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- 0800 496 734