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How we manage stormwater

Our stormwater network is made up of underground pipes, open drains, ponds, wetlands and 800 outlets which then release this stormwater into our harbour, streams and rivers. Stormwater is not treated and it’s discharged directly back into our environment - That’s why it’s important we keep this water as clean as possible.

Consents, plans and infrastructure

Council has three 35-year consents for stormwater structures and managing stormwater discharges across our city.

We have developed city-wide catchment management plans to deal with stormwater and quality issues as they arise. These plans set out a programme for renewals and maintenance so our stormwater infrastructure remains fit for purpose.

Stormwater works will vary depending on the issue we need to resolve. Often they will include the construction of large pipes underground. They can also involve reshaping roads to carry water away from private property.

Over 55,000 properties are connected to our stormwater network and we have identified 61km of overland flow paths across our city where water will flow in extreme rain. These sit across both private and public-owned land. 

Pollution prevention

Part of council’s role is to create community awareness about stormwater pollution so we can help prevent it.

You will find signs in the Gordon Carmichael Reserve, Bethlehem wetlands, Carlton Street Reserve, Matua Salt Marsh, and various locations in Papamoa that explain what stormwater ponds are for, how they work, and ways people can prevent stormwater pollution.

To find out more how about how to prevent stormwater pollution and for education posters email james.piddock@tauranga.govt.nz.

Our Stormwater Strategy

Following widespread flooding in Tauranga in 2005, council re-examined its role in flood management. We decided to pursue an ‘integrated stormwater approach’. This was aimed at improving the level of service council offers, educating the community, and understanding the implications of flood management over the long-term.

The Integrated Stormwater Project was formed and adopted by council in 2013 to mitigate and reduce stormwater damage and impacts on properties and lives by:

  1. A safety-focused level of service – areas where flood water flows fast and deep enough to pose a danger to people’s safety are given the highest priority. This includes investing in stormwater projects across our city over a number of years.
  2. Education – allow residents to make informed decisions by providing technical advice including modelling and flood risk information for a 1-in-100-year event.
  3. Residual risk and emergency management – integrating hard and soft infrastructure solutions in the roading, reserves and stormwater asset areas.
  4. Reactive response capacity to help flood affected landowners – see our Stormwater Reactive Reserve Fund Policy.
  5. Regulation and policy amendment to ensure no increased risk occurs, and over time, risk is reduced – see Plan Change 27

Water sensitive design

Tauranga’s growth means increased run-off from hard surfaces and more pollutants will likely enter our streams, rivers and harbour. The potential effects of climate change, including more frequent and severe storms, will also increase pressure on these waterways.

That’s why it is best practice to apply a water sensitive design approach to any new developments or redevelopments in urban areas. Our stormwater discharge consents legally require council to consider a water sensitive design approach from the initial planning stage.

Water sensitive design uses the natural processes of soils and plants to manage stormwater run-off. Examples include rain gardens where plants naturally help remove contaminants before water soaks into the ground or runs off into stormwater drains, and ultimately, our harbour. These gardens also improve amenity and help break up hard surface structures.

The plantings along Durham Street outside Waikato University’s campus are a good example of water sensitive design in action. In addition to these plantings, filters have been installed in stormwater manholes along the street to treat run-off in areas where vehicles, particularly buses, regularly stop.

Durham Street planting

Durham Street planting long view

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