Media release

Paint in Kaikorai Stream could be deadly to fish

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Kaikorai Stream has been polluted with paint recently, and the Otago Regional Council (ORC) reports that it is not the first time.

There are hundreds of houses in the area that feed into the storm water system, which in turn feeds into Kaikorai Stream. This makes it difficult to track down where the paint is coming from.

ORC Director Environmental Monitoring and Operations Scott MacLean said paint was reported in the Kaikorai Stream at a similar time last year.

“Most drains end up leading to the sea, whether it’s directly to the ocean via the storm water system, or has been treated at the waste water plant first. Either way, paint products should never be put down a drain,” he said.

“We are working closely with Dunedin City Council to isolate where the paint is coming from because we need to stop this happening.”

Paint in waterways poisons fish and plants, and it also affects the coastal environment. The Kaikorai Stream feeds into the lagoon at Waldronville and then into the ocean, which means the impact of paint or other pollutants in city streams is wide-reaching.

ORC encourages people to report any pollution to their pollution hotline on 0800 800 033 as soon as they see it, so staff can investigate.

How to clean up paint safely:

  • Use a scraper to clean the bulk of paint from rollers or brushes onto newspaper, then dry this before disposing of it with your rubbish.
  • Rinse the remaining paint from the roller or brush in a 20 litre container filled with water
  • Give them a final rinse in a second container of water
  • Cover both containers and allow them to stand overnight. Once the paint has settled to the bottom, tip the water onto the grass (well away from a waterway), and scrape the paint onto newspaper so it can dry before you dispose of it with your rubbish.
  • Wash water-based paint brushes in the laundry tub (it’s connected to the wastewater system not the stormwater drains)
  • Re-use solvents used for oil-based paint brush cleaning by letting the paint particles settle out.
  • Clean up spills quickly and do not hose into the stormwater drains.

How to store paint safely

  • Store all paints, thinners and other liquids in a secure, covered location.
  • Use drip trays in mixing and painting areas and when transferring paint.

How to dispose of paint safely

  • Return leftover or unwanted paint to a paint shop that has a take-back scheme
  • Store paint and reuse (store can upside down so it forms airtight seal around lid).
  • Dispose of paint or used/unwanted solvents at a refuse station (not down the wastewater or stormwater systems).

For more information contact:

Scott MacLean
Director environmental monitoring and operations
Ph 0800 474 082 or 027 411 9459

Communications contact

Sian Sutton
Director Strategic Communications and Engagement
ORCPh 0800 474082 or 027 575 1799