Port’s claim it didn’t blacken harbour ‘a stretch’: GDC

Logyard discharge within consent conditions.

Logyard discharge within consent conditions.

STORMWATER DISPUTE: Eastland Port general manager Andrew Gaddum alongside the Kopuawhakapata Stream at the corner of Wainui and Crawford Roads. He said Eastland Port's water testing showed the harbour discolouration last month was from the city's stormwater and unrelated to port activities, while Gisborne District Council has said that claim was a stretch. Picture supplied
DIRTY WATER: The inner harbour turned black after heavy rain. It was still visible the following day, when this picture was taken. Picture by Liam Clayton

GISBORNE District Council has disputed Eastland Port's claim that its activities were unrelated to the harbour turning black after heavy rain last month.

Investigations into the causes of the black harbour water showed it was the result of city stormwater in Kopuawhakapata Stream and discharge from the port’s upper logyard.

The port’s discharge was within its consent conditions, however, which relate to the amount of specific contaminants in the discharge and not the colour.

Eastland Port general manager Andrew Gaddum said their testing proved the discolouring was “unrelated to port activity”.

But Gisborne District Council acting environmental and regulatory services group manager Lois Easton said while the port was within its consent, it was “probably a stretch” to say the discolouring was unrelated to port activity.

The harbour turned black on February 8 following heavy rain. Eastland Port and Gisborne District Council carried out testing to determine the origin of the discolouration, which also made its way out into Poverty Bay.

Suspended solids

Eastland Port said its water testing showed Kopuawhakapata Stream had increased suspended solids upstream from Eastland Port and at the port’s discharge point, which caused the dark water in the harbour.

Kopuawhakapata Stream is one of Gisborne’s main stormwater runoffs and its water comes from a catchment of about 300 hectares of Gisborne. The stream winds through parts of Kaiti and gets into the harbour through a pipe under the Tatapouri Fishing Club.

The port’s testing was done in five locations including two in the port, two in the Kopuawhakapata Stream, and one where the stream flows into the harbour.

Mr Gaddum said the testing showed the port’s contribution into the stream was 122 grams of suspended solids per cubic metre, while upstream it was 179 grams.

“Our upper logyard makes up only 1 percent of the land area contributing to the Kopuawhakapata Stream catchment,” he said.

“And unlike the water coming from elsewhere, our water had been through a powerhouse of natural and mechanical filters first.”

Turbid above port discharge

Council staff who investigated noted the Kopuawhakapata Stream was turbid above the port discharge and considered the discharge was compliant with the port’s consent.

“But there was dark sediment in the discharge from the upper logyard,” Ms Easton said.

“Consent conditions do not relate to colour, they relate to the amount of specific contaminants in the discharge. We are pleased the port was compliant with its consent (for the upper logyard), and share their concern about the water quality in the Kopuawhakapata Stream along its length.”

The council is further investigating a complaint from the port about earthworks further up in the catchment, and will continue to respond to any complaints of pollution events at the inner harbour or at any other location.

“People should call the council when they first notice a pollution event. When it rains generally the worst part of the discharge (known as the first flush) occurs in the first half hour, and after that the amount of contaminants in the discharge often reduces.”

The port’s testing also showed elevated levels of nitrogen at all five testing sites. In excessive concentrations, nitrogen can lead to growth of algae and other plants.

Testing found nitrogen levels at 0.55 parts per million at the port’s compliance point, over the port’s consent level of 0.4.

The elevated levels of nitrogen at all five testing sites were difficult to explain and the port’s ecological experts were investigating further, Mr Gaddum said.

“We want to work out where the nitrogen is coming from so it doesn't happen again.”

GISBORNE District Council has disputed Eastland Port's claim that its activities were unrelated to the harbour turning black after heavy rain last month.

Investigations into the causes of the black harbour water showed it was the result of city stormwater in Kopuawhakapata Stream and discharge from the port’s upper logyard.

The port’s discharge was within its consent conditions, however, which relate to the amount of specific contaminants in the discharge and not the colour.

Eastland Port general manager Andrew Gaddum said their testing proved the discolouring was “unrelated to port activity”.

But Gisborne District Council acting environmental and regulatory services group manager Lois Easton said while the port was within its consent, it was “probably a stretch” to say the discolouring was unrelated to port activity.

The harbour turned black on February 8 following heavy rain. Eastland Port and Gisborne District Council carried out testing to determine the origin of the discolouration, which also made its way out into Poverty Bay.

Suspended solids

Eastland Port said its water testing showed Kopuawhakapata Stream had increased suspended solids upstream from Eastland Port and at the port’s discharge point, which caused the dark water in the harbour.

Kopuawhakapata Stream is one of Gisborne’s main stormwater runoffs and its water comes from a catchment of about 300 hectares of Gisborne. The stream winds through parts of Kaiti and gets into the harbour through a pipe under the Tatapouri Fishing Club.

The port’s testing was done in five locations including two in the port, two in the Kopuawhakapata Stream, and one where the stream flows into the harbour.

Mr Gaddum said the testing showed the port’s contribution into the stream was 122 grams of suspended solids per cubic metre, while upstream it was 179 grams.

“Our upper logyard makes up only 1 percent of the land area contributing to the Kopuawhakapata Stream catchment,” he said.

“And unlike the water coming from elsewhere, our water had been through a powerhouse of natural and mechanical filters first.”

Turbid above port discharge

Council staff who investigated noted the Kopuawhakapata Stream was turbid above the port discharge and considered the discharge was compliant with the port’s consent.

“But there was dark sediment in the discharge from the upper logyard,” Ms Easton said.

“Consent conditions do not relate to colour, they relate to the amount of specific contaminants in the discharge. We are pleased the port was compliant with its consent (for the upper logyard), and share their concern about the water quality in the Kopuawhakapata Stream along its length.”

The council is further investigating a complaint from the port about earthworks further up in the catchment, and will continue to respond to any complaints of pollution events at the inner harbour or at any other location.

“People should call the council when they first notice a pollution event. When it rains generally the worst part of the discharge (known as the first flush) occurs in the first half hour, and after that the amount of contaminants in the discharge often reduces.”

The port’s testing also showed elevated levels of nitrogen at all five testing sites. In excessive concentrations, nitrogen can lead to growth of algae and other plants.

Testing found nitrogen levels at 0.55 parts per million at the port’s compliance point, over the port’s consent level of 0.4.

The elevated levels of nitrogen at all five testing sites were difficult to explain and the port’s ecological experts were investigating further, Mr Gaddum said.

“We want to work out where the nitrogen is coming from so it doesn't happen again.”

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winston moreton - 6 months ago
If "there was dark sediment in the discharge from the upper log yard" then, as the council inspector says, it must be obvious to everybody except the Port Authority (Eastland Group) that there is a contaminant present and flowing into the fragile crayfish breeding zone. Now the port does its own science and public relations and cost is no object. The council, however, is constrained by rates money and cannot compete with the big money which the port has at its disposal to ignore public sentiment.
In The Gisborne Herald yesterday we are informed that our port (Eastland Group, which is owned by our community trust) handled 206,000 tonnes of logs for the month of February. In dollar terms, just counting the cargo handling fees, that equates to at least $1.7 million. Over 12 months it will reap well in excess of $20 million. What does the Eastland Group (and ECT) do with the profits?
The associated downside of course has to be the pounding given our local roads and ears by the annual 50,000 truck movements. If the trucks drove to a rail head, amenity values in Gisborne would soar.

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