Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Officials accused of hiding report

Fight over paper on stormwater pollution.

'The international test has flushed out some home truths we cannot hide from', said Chris Darby. Photo / Sarah Ivey
'The international test has flushed out some home truths we cannot hide from', said Chris Darby. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A damning report on stormwater practices at Auckland Council is being suppressed because some officers do not want to confront home truths, says councillor Chris Darby.

Chief operating officer Dean Kimpton is blocking public access to the report, which says the health of Auckland's harbours and streams is continuing to deteriorate and highlights a lack of leadership on stormwater.

The report, written by three academics at Monash University in Melbourne, said Auckland was moving towards environmental protection and pollution management, but most work reflected the 1950s to 1970s practice of flood protection.

The authors heard of policy changes being softened for growth and affordable land development.

Among 14 recommendations in the report were an independent assessment of the state of Auckland's stormwater system and a single entity for water, wastewater and stormwater.

In an email to councillors, Mr Kimpton said an "unauthorised release" of the report to the Herald was an "unapproved draft" commissioned outside of the necessary internal approvals, flawed at times, not subject to full peer review and "deemed not suitable for public release".

Nevertheless, he distributed a copy of the report to councillors, saying officers would complete a peer review of the 64-page document and make corrections before bringing it to a council committee.

The email was prompted by an article in the Herald based on the report, Benchmarking Auckland's stormwater management practices against the Water Sensitive Cities framework.

Mr Darby, deputy chairman of the infrastructure committee, said the report was a well-researched document that should be in the political and public arena.

"This international test has flushed out some home truths we cannot hide from. "There are individuals within Auckland Council who aren't finding this report to their liking. It doesn't fit their agenda," he said.

Mr Darby and other sources disputed claims by Mr Kimpton that the report was not approved, not subject to full peer review and incomplete.

The report, he said, had gone through the correct procurement and contract processes with the appropriate signatures.

The report itself said it "has been peer reviewed by the peer review panel", reviewed for Auckland Council by stormwater team leader Sarah Munro and approved for publication by stormwater development and technical services manager Matthew Davis.

Environment committee chairman Wayne Walker said it was essential for councillors to assess the report and be open to constructive criticism.

Mr Kimpton and stormwater unit manager Craig McIlroy issued a response saying the "unapproved report" was being reviewed by management and an independent peer review before being reported to the council in July or August.

Read the full stormwater report here.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 20 Aug 2014 20:35:39 Processing Time: 615ms