Drains are Only for Rain

Dec 23, 2013

Tipping old paint, garden sprays, and waste oil into the gutter may be a quick way to clean out your shed, but it’s also a fast track to polluting waterways and lakes.
That’s why the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council are joining forces to remind people that stormwater drains are designed for rain – nothing more.

“Everything that runs down the drain ends up in a stream or river,” QLDC general manager – infrastructure and assets Erik Barnes says.

He’s also cautioning anyone carrying out building work over summer to make sure debris doesn’t end up in drains or sewers. Twice recently, sewers in downtown Queenstown overflowed after becoming blocked by stones and debris.

“We know that accidents happen sometimes, and we’d much rather be called out to retrieve something that went in a drain or a sewer by mistake then have to respond to an emergency overflow,” Mr Barnes said.

Jeff Donaldson, ORC director environmental monitoring and operations, said water quality was important throughout the region, and particularly in the Queenstown Lakes District, where people would be out enjoying the lakes and rivers during the holidays.

“Waterway contamination has the potential to degrade people’s experience of the area and make them unsafe for recreational use, so our pollution hotline will be open throughout the holidays,” Mr Donaldson said.

ORC environmental staff will be working closely with QLDC to thoroughly investigate any incidents where contaminants are being poured into drains or waterways.

Anyone observing people using kerbside drains to dispose of polluting materials should immediately call the ORC pollution hotline on 0800 800 033.