Letter from Environmental Advisory Group

Paul Walbran

The Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) is an independent group of individuals with interest and expertise in water and/or wastewater-related topics. We advise, support and challenge Watercare’s approach to sustainability generally, and environmental matters in particular. We also help to anticipate emerging issues and inform strategy development. We express community concerns and press Watercare to exercise environmental leadership within the water industry.

The new structure of the group, as reported in 2017, has widened our input into the environmental aspects of policy, both within Watercare and as it contributes to external demands.

Climate change has continued to be a major focus. Watercare’s assets have both a long life and long planning and construction lead times. It is expected that items currently in planning will still be operational when climate change effects become significant; so, failing now to consider the implications of possible sea level rise and extreme weather events could have major environmental and social consequences in future. EAG considers that this imperative to act now places Watercare in a position of natural leadership in climate change adaptation and that it can contribute significantly to achieving policy coherence within the Auckland Council family. Watercare is also building experience and data that can be shared with water and wastewater operations elsewhere in the country.

Through attendance at staff workshops, EAG members can confirm that a thorough approach is being taken by Watercare to the predicted effects of climate change in Auckland. There is a high degree of participation and buy-in by staff, which has resulted in recording an extensive set of potential implications for Watercare. We have had significant input, via a further workshop and teleconferencing, to the development of the climate change strategy arising from this work.

Other major topics engaged with during the past year include:

  • Integrated reporting – an internal process with considerable potential to ensure proper accounting for environmental considerations across Watercare
  • Preliminary discussions around replanting in the Hünua catchment following the March 2017 ‘weather bomb’, including some potential to transition from exotic to native forest
  • Measures to address wastewater discharges, including separation of combined sewers.

sig Paul Walbran

Paul Walbran
Chairman
Environmental Advisory Group

EAG group members and areas of interest:

Paul Walbran, Chairman
Water quality, harbour health, heritage

Betsy Kettle
Zero waste, water-sensitive urban design (WSUD)

Daniel Hikuroa
Ma-tauranga, mauri, waterscapes, water futures

Elizabeth Walker
Wetlands, water, community infrastructure, Aotearoa plants

Georgina Hart
Environmental management, business sustainability, water quality, restoration and conservation, climate change

Judy Bischoff
Water, energy efficiency, soils, waste, permaculture

Madeleine Wright
Environmental litigation, national policy development

During the year we farewelled Chris Hatton. We thank Chris for the wealth of environmental management experience he brought to the group. We are currently recruiting for his replacement.