According to a recent report analysing litter entering the stormwater system in Petone over 2000 rubbish items were dumped into the waterways over eight weeks.

The study, completed by Bachelor of Engineering Technology students at the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and supported by Hutt City Council, was designed to look at litter in the stormwater system – one of the major pollution risks to our environment today. With growing community concern about plastics entering the ocean, litter is recognised as a major pollution risk to our environment today.

WelTec’s Head of Engineering Graham Carson was pleased that civil engineering students could work on a project so closely linked to water and waste which is one of the specialisms in the Degree. “It’s great to see our engineering students in their third year of study working on a project like this which clearly has value and could make a difference to our water quality.”

Over the course of the stormwater trial eight stormwater sumps had a device called a LittaTrap™ fitted and rubbish collected was analysed each week over an eight week timeframe.

Cigarette butts were the leading gross pollutant entering the stormwater drains followed by plastic and paper.

Hutt City Council’s Manager Sustainability & Resilience Jörn Scherzer says the survey data is helpful and will inform future studies into more effective litter prevention and waste minimisation.

“Through information like this we can analyse the cost of prevention and provide information to our community about the impact of litter on our environment and waterways.

“Hutt City Council is currently working on expanding the stormwater litter trial to two other areas and monitoring the sites involved for a year. This will give us a wider view of how much litter is getting washed into the harbour from Lower Hutt. We can then review this data and work out what the next steps will be as we work towards solving this problem. ”

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