Eugenie Sage

Swimming on the Wellington waterfront

by Eugenie Sage

Wellington’s waterfront dive platform is an inspired piece of inner-city architecture that draws huge crowds on a hot day. Where else in the world can brave jumpers thrill onlookers in the middle of a city?

The big problem – and this is quite a basic one – is that the harbour water below is highly polluted with faecal contamination levels sometimes over 500 times the level safe for swimming. The platform has been “closed” for over a year but the warning signs are not deterring jumpers from their 10 seconds of fame.

welly jumpThe source of the pollution is likely to be a broken stormwater pipe somewhere in a 300-hectare catchment that drains to the harbour. A year on, Wellington City Council have still to find and repair the leak to protect the health of those taking a plunge. The City Council had promised to fix the issue by summer but so far has not delivered.

I’ll be watching this issue. A brilliant jumping spot has highlighted a dirty little secret about water quality in Wellington…and possibly another story of deferred maintenance for our aging stormwater and sewage infrastructure.

Closing or moving the diving platform is not a solution. The platform simply reminds us of why water quality matters so much. Swimming in the sea is our birthright.

The City Council has done some innovative work to improve stormwater systems with their design guide and projects to reduce runoff and use plants to trap sediment and pollutants. Now Council needs to step up and fix the problem so the diving platform can re-open to everyone.

Eugenie