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Botanic Gardens stream polluted with paint

Jan 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Lead Story, News

paintmainA STREAM running through one of  Wellington’s top tourist attractions, the Botanic Gardens, has been clouded with pollution.

The usually pristine stream, which snakes through bush on its way from Kelburn’s Glen to the duck pond, was looking so murky recently tourists and children at the gardens were speculating on the cause.

Paint in the storm water system appears to be the most likely culprit, says Wellington City council spokesman Richard MacLean.

He concedes Parks and Garden’s staff were unaware of the early morning water pollution episode.

“It sounds as if paintbrush washing was the cause,” he says.  “It’s often well diluted by the time it reaches the duck pond. It happens less than it once did, but still occurs from time to time.”

Mr Maclean says both the local and regional councils try to encourage the public to be responsible and not to tip waste down stormwater drains.

Greater Wellington Regional Council monitors water quality in Wellington, and has the capacity to prosecute if a spill is large and if staff have identified the source.

“If the spill is bigger than usual or involves petrochemicals, we call in Greater Wellington who contain and remove the spilled material. We keep a temporary boom in the garden for capturing oil spills.”

While the white water had virtually flushed clear by evening, visitors to the park – including cruise ship tourists and school children on holiday – noticed the problem earlier in the day, with two children overheard speculating about “toxic water making mutant fish”.

Decorating retailer David Archer from Guthrie Bowron in Thorndon says any contamination of public waterways is very sad.

“Both Dulux and Resene have worked pretty hard to classify their paints in terms of environmental choice,” he says.

However, he agrees sometimes people take the easy option of flushing paint waste into the storm water system rather than taking it to the refuse centre at the dump.

More information about practical ways to keep the environment clean, green and free from household pollution can be found at the regional council website: http://www.wellington.govt.nz/services/stormwater/pdfs/youstoppollution.pdf

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