Seasonal sniffing no fun

  • Published Date 12 Aug 2020

Hay fever season is here again, cunningly enough disguised as pollution to cause people to call Greater Wellington’s Pollution Hotline in the mistaken belief that discoloured water is pollution.

Callers report that off-yellow/white stains are to be found in the harbour, lining streams and puddles and coating people’s cars.

It’s all a sign that hay fever season is about to start.

“People mistake pollen deposits for pollution and while it’s great they report them to our Pollution Hotline, it’s not a problem. Good on them because it shows people care about their environment and are on the lookout for pollution,” says Greater Wellington’s Manager Environment Regulation Shaun Andrewartha.

Off-white, yellow and greenish sludge found on water surfaces or lining shores show that pollen is being spread by wind pollination from many plants, including pines and most grasses, which routinely trigger hay fever. They produce enormous quantities of light, dry pollen grains that are carried on Wellington’s boisterous late winter and spring winds.

Only a small amount of the pollen hits the spot on plants. The majority goes to waste and this is what can be seen forming clumps and foamy slime around water or the fine yellow dust you might be seeing on your clean car or laundry.  It can be alarming but it’s perfectly normal.

“It may be misery for many but it’s just nature doing its thing, without which plant growth would be much diminished.”

If people suspect pollution they should call Greater Wellington Regional Council's Hotline on 0800 496 734. It's a confidential 24-hour service. Contact details will be requested so that staff can gather more information if needed. 

Updated November 12, 2020 at 12:28 AM

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