Sewage flowing onto Porirua beach 'heartbreaking' for locals

A coastal suburb in Porirua is fed up with sewage flowing onto the beach.

Titahi Bay residents and the local surf lifesaving club are calling on the Porirua City Council to fix the problem and upgrade its infrastructure.

Whenever there's heavy rain, toilet paper and faeces flow onto the street and stormwater gushes out onto the beach.

"Our biggest worry is sewage. We've got sewage coming from everywhere at the moment on our beach," Titahi Bay surf lifesaving chairperson John Wesley Smith says.

"It's really affecting our community and our club, primarily because we can't put people in the water."

Hundreds of kids come to the beach every Sunday for the club's water safety programme - but in the past 12 months, one-third of all these were cancelled or scaled-down because of the health risk.

"You worry about what you swim in, we don't want people getting sick at our beach," Wesley Smith says.

"That's the worry we manage on a week to week basis at the moment."

One of the water samples collected last year showed the level of E. coli was 300-times the amount considered safe for swimming. 

The Titahi Bay Residents Association says there have been 14 sewage discharges from Porirua's treatment plant since September.

"It is heartbreaking, this beautiful beach is contaminated with sewage. We can see it coming through three streams here," Michelle Laurenson of the association says.

"You can see bits of faeces because it hasn't reached the plant yet."

It all comes down to the overloaded council infrastructure.

"They're 60-year-old pipes, so it's obviously council's job to fix the pipes," Porirua Mayor Anita Baker says. 

"In the old days, we've obviously had cross-connections but we've had more and more rain and quite simply the pipes can't cope."

Stormwater is getting into the pipes that feed into one treatment plant, and the council says that's what's causing the problems. It says the capacity is right for the moment but knows long-term it has to increase it. Baker promises it's on her radar to fix it.

"We're working as best as we can. If we could do it faster, we will try, obviously, but we need Wellington Water to do the catchment study and fix the residents' pipes that are broken."

A fix that can't come soon enough for this community.