Pandora Pond has had to be closed because of pollution linked to this week's rainfall.

It hasn't even rained that hard.

In September, there was two months' worth of rain in three days. Stormwater and sewage mixed together and leaked onto residential streets.

The Napier City Council made the decision to release polluted stormwater into the Ahuriri estuary, to ease the pressure.


At the time, we asked for how long and roughly how much was poured into the estuary. The council couldn't tell us.

Read more: Pandora Pond closes again in Napier
IronMaori Saturday called off after health warnings

This time around, we've had steady rain. The type dairy farmers love, great for pasture growth.

Ironically, this time the pollution has come from runoff from nearby farms - not the town's urban stormwater system. The pollution issue is multi-pronged, it seems.

This week's rain has been enough to block drains (in some cases, the same drains that blocked back in September) and cause, we thought, other relatively minor inconveniences.

Until the news that Pandora Pond is polluted and shut.

That means the Iron Māori half ironman 2km swim leg was cancelled.

This has happened to other triathlon events. At some point organisers are going to blacklist Napier, if a reliable clean swimming site can't be found.


Sure, it's a crappy weekend, weatherwise, so big numbers of recreational users are not likely to be affected.

But that's not the point. If Pandora Pond is polluted under this sort of light pressure, then we have a worse situation than we thought.

Critics of the council's spending on "big ticket" projects will be shaking heads and saying "told you so".

They perceive the council has overspent in the wrong areas, jazzing up Marine Parade, contemplating aquarium upgrades and the like.

The three Rs - rates, rubbish and roads - have been ignored, they say.

The thing is, the council has to have its fingers in more than one pie these days, and one of them is economic development and tourism.

Marine Parade is world class. But what lies beneath Napier is a stormwater system that appears to be as old as the Art Deco architecture tourists come to admire.

What happens when a tourist, upon learning that no one in their right mind swims in Mother Nature's washing machine on Marine Parade, pops over to Pandora Pond to cool off, and it's shut because of pollution.

And, tourists aside, don't residents have the right to expect to be able to swim, or go about their daily ablutions, without fear of poisoning nature or themselves? These aren't wants, they are basic day-to-day expectations.

The council has a plan to upgrade, there is $20 million budgeted, everyone is aware of the need to sort this out.

But perhaps it's time to review where the urgent attention is required, and fast track some of that work.

The right noises have been made but Napier residents have a good reason to raise the volume and start shouting.

Election issue, 2019 anyone? No way, we shouldn't have to wait that long.