Waterways can recover; however, it takes a sustained effort over many years. Working together we can make a positive difference. Every bit helps — even small things make a difference.
Stormwater, and why it matters?
Stormwater is water that runs off our roofs, driveways, roads and gardens then into our gutters. It flows untreated into our waterways and out to sea. On its journey, it picks up a whole heap of nasty bits and pieces that end up in our rivers and streams. This includes litter and rubbish, animal excrement and chemicals from things like washing cars and paint brushes on the driveway.
Environment Canterbury’s surface water quality data shows the following key contaminants are of concern throughout the Christchurch urban catchment:
- Zinc (from roads and roofing)
- Copper (from roads and roofing)
- Total Suspended Solids
- E. coli (from human sources and birds)
- Dissolved Reactive Phosphorous (DRP) (from both ground and surface water sources)
- Nitrate-Nitrogen (NN) thought to be mainly from groundwater surfaces
Each of these contaminants may cause harm to stream life, risks to contact recreation, and growth of nuisance aquatic plants and algae.
Be a stormwater superhero at home
The good news is that we can all be a Stormwater Superhero and take some small actions to help keep stormwater clean and improve the quality of water in our rivers and streams.
These include things like:
- Taking the dog for a walk. Take a bag with you, pick up your dog's poo and dispose of it properly.
- Cleaning the car. Wash it on the grass verge so the grass filters out the pollutants or use a professional and sustainable car wash.
- Painting round the house. Wash your brushes in the laundry sink not directly into the stormwater drain.
- Changing the brakes on your car. Ask for copper-free pads, they're better for our waterways.
- Putting the rubbish out. Check the gutter outside, pick up any rubbish and leaves and put it in the appropriate bin for collection.
- Doing some construction or landscaping. Keep dirt on your property. If you see dirt or sediment leaving building sites and going onto footpaths or roads phone Environment Canterbury on 0800 765 588 (24/7) or report using the Snap, Send, Solve app.
If you are keen to take a more extensive action you can look at creating a rain garden. Or if you are doing some construction or landscaping make sure you keep dirt on your property.
Be a stormwater superhero at work
Whether you work in a workshop, on a construction site or in an office — it’s important to look after our stormwater at work as well. It’s particularly important for workplaces that store and use oils and hazardous substances to have stormwater protection measures and spill procedures in place to prevent any pollution getting into the stormwater network and ending up in our waterways.
Information about what you can do in your workplace to help keen our waterways clean:
- Industrial Pollution Guide
- Erosion & Sediment Control Toolbox For Canterbury
- Christchurch City Council — Rain garden design, construction and maintenance manual (PDF 6.2 MB)
Report an environmental incident
Find more resources on stormwater:
- Urban water where does it go?
- Protecting Canterbury’s water
- What’s being done to protect our water?
- What is the state of recreational water in Canterbury?