Letter from Environmental Advisory Group

Letter from Environmental Advisory Group Portrait ContentWidth

The Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) is an independent group of individuals with interest and expertise in water and 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.

Working with Watercare during the year, the group has been pleased to see that sustainability considerations have become progressively more integrated into the company’s planning and operations, including the implementation of a revised personnel structure to achieve that. We consider this is essential for an organisation such as Watercare, with not only a potentially large environmental footprint but also one facing major impacts and costs as a result of climate change.

EAG continued to engage with Watercare as it completed its Climate Change Strategy. This is anticipated to evolve in response to ongoing monitoring and other external changes. We are impressed with Watercare’s approach to this important strategy, which sets the overall context in which both planning and operational decisions are made and implemented, and support its proposed actions.

Using holistic assessment methods in the strategy’s implementation and review will avoid the risk of siloed decision-making with its potential for inconsistent outcomes – for example, significant impacts on other significant values (such as an ecological area) for minimal gain on climate-related aspects. A summary of this strategy is on the Watercare website and should greatly assist public understanding of the practical effects of climate change for Watercare and provide a good exemplar for others to consider in determining climate change implications and how to address them.

Watercare’s Hūnua revegetation project is one where the group has provided considerable input during the year as it encompasses multiple major environmental issues. In addressing important operational issues (2017 “Tasman Tempest” erosion and how to protect the catchment from a repeat event) there are also opportunities for optimising carbon sequestration, biodiversity in one of Auckland’s largest natural areas, and Kauri dieback mitigation. Biosecurity risks and public use and access are also very important.

Other major topics engaged with during the past year include:

  • Water security and current weather projections

  • Incorporation of climate change and other environmental outcomes into infrastructure delivery

  • Watercare’s submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill and other Government initiatives

  • Central Interceptor Sustainability Rating.

Paul Walbran
Environmental Advisory Group

EAG members and areas of interest:

Paul Walbran, Chairman
Water quality, harbour health, heritage

Betsy Kettle
Zero Waste, Water Sensitive Urban Design

Elizabeth Walker
Wetlands, water, community infrastructure, Aotearoa plants

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

Daniel Hikuroa
Mātauranga, mauri, waterscapes, water futures

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

Madeleine Wright
Environmental litigation, national policy development