The latest State of the Environment (2015) report shows that while Auckland's air quality has improved significantly, marine and freshwater sites have been polluted by sediments and contaminants arising from development, building and industrial activities.
Our ageing sewerage and stormwater systems overflow after heavy rainfall, depositing contaminants into our natural waterways. Many of our beaches are unsafe for swimming after these storm events, with some being permanently closed.
Approximately two-thirds of Auckland's local native species are under threat of extinction. Without substantial increases in investment in this area, we estimate:
- the risk of Kauri dieback spreading is over 80 per cent
- only 30 per cent of significant ecological sites in council parks will have adequate pest control
- only 20 per cent of rural Auckland will have adequate possum control
- there is a high risk of marine pests posing risks to ecosystems and
- increased costs to aquatic industries
Auckland's population growth places increasing pressure on the environment.
The development of 15,000ha of future urban land identified in the Unitary Plan could cause further problems if not managed carefully. Increasing intensification in the existing urban area could exceed the capacity of our current infrastructure unless we invest in keeping up with the growth.
Climate change is a global problem that we are experiencing increasingly at a local level.
The most recent climate change projections for Auckland indicate warming temperatures, less annual rainfall in the north but more in the south, and stronger winds.
More frequent, and severe, weather events are expected. Some of our infrastructure may no longer be adequate to deal with more rainfall, or a warmer climate. Sea-level rise will increase risks for assets on the coast from inundation and erosion.
We are already seeing increasing problems with coastal assets, such as sea walls being severely damaged during storms, and roads such as Tamaki Drive are experiencing inundation on a more regular basis.
Our existing assets should be renewed and replaced with more appropriate solutions. To maintain these assets we will need more investment than we have been making.