Help prevent pollution

There are lots of actions you can take to reduce the risk of pollution at home, in your workplace, and on the move.


Heating systems

How you heat your home can have a big impact on pollutants released into the air.

Where possible, replace old fires and wood burners with more efficient appliances such as heat pumps, pellet burners or wood burners that meet the National Standards.

If you are using a wood burner, use untreated, dry wood and make sure you allow maximum air flow around the appliance.

You should also make sure your home is well insulated, so you don't have to use as much energy to heat it.

For more, see:

Solid fuel heating
Home insulation
Enjoy the heat, not the smoke! (PDF 1.9MB)

Septic tanks

Poorly designed or poorly maintained septic tanks allow germ-laden wastewater into the natural environment, seeping into our streams and coastal waters.

Saving water is an easy way of improving system performance. Older systems become overloaded, especially where a large, modern house exists on a site that is serviced by an older septic tank.

For more, see:

Pollution from septic tanks
West coast lagoons
Be Waterwise (Watercare website)  


Environmental management plans

Improving your business pollution practices isn't just good for the environment, it can also make your business more efficient by reducing waste and spills.

An environmental management plan (EMP) identifies ways to perform specific tasks in order to manage pollution risks that may arise.

A well-written EMP is designed to work in tandem with your everyday operations.

For more, see our EMP guide (PDF 529KB).

Storage and spills

If your business uses chemicals, you need to store them correctly and have a spill response plan to minimise the chance of those chemicals damaging the environment.

Store chemicals in sturdy and appropriately-labelled containers. Store inside if possible, or if not, make sure they are covered and secure from rain or vandalism.

Have a spill response plan and make sure your employees know what to do if a spill occurs.

For more, see how to deal with spills (PDF 1.4MB).

Food waste

It's important to dispose of food waste, grease and fats responsibly.

Don't pour used grease and fats into the sink, as they can block the drains. Instead, install grease traps (and service them regularly) or use commercial waste grease containers. Alternatively, collect waste grease in a plastic bag or newspaper and put it in the rubbish bin.

When cleaning, dispose of wash water in an indoor sink or drain. Don't pour wash water into outdoor stormwater drains as this will contaminate natural waterways.

For more, see Preventing pollution: food waste, fats and grease (PDF 2.2MB).


See Land and water conservation.

Cars and boats 


Wash water from cleaning your car can contain a variety of pollutants, including detergents, oil, fuel residues, metals and paint.

Clean your car in a place where the water will run onto unsealed ground like gravel or a grass verge. Alternatively, use sandbags to divert the wash water onto unsealed ground. 

If you don't have a suitable place to clean your car, take it to a commercial facility.

For more, see Preventing pollution: vehicle and equipment washing (PDF 3.1MB).

For information on how to run your car in a way that prevents pollution, see the Energywise website.


If you operate a boat, keep your bilges clean, the engine well maintained and a stock of absorbent material on board to soak up spills as and when they occur.

Don't pump oily bilge water over the side. Instead, dispose of it appropriately as waste when you return to the shore. See Oil Recycling.

All boat cleaning needs to comply with the Auckland Council Coastal Plan guidelines. Boats can only be cleaned at drying piles (or 'grids') to remove minor surface slime (but not paint and antifoul).

If boats have excessive growth they will need to be hauled out. For further information contact the Coastal Team (Natural Resources and Specialist Input) via our contact us page. 

To discharge untreated sewage from a boat, you must be more than:

  • 2000m from mean high water springs (MHWS)
  • 500m from an aquaculture activity
  • 500m from a mataitai reserve
  • 200m from a marine reserve

Read more about sewage systems for recreational boats on the Ministry for the Environment website.

Fuels and oils

Fuels, oils and hydraulic fluids are toxic and contain heavy metals and other harmful chemicals.

Never allow these substances to be released onto land or into the stormwater system.

For disposal information, see the Oil recycling website.

Painting, concreting and waterblasting 


Paints and thinners contain a number of harmful substances that can pollute our environment.

Cover and protect stormwater drains at all times while you are painting. Use a drop cloth to collect drips, and a drip tray for transferring or pouring paint.

Keep paint and equipment away from stormwater drains, in case of spills. If a spill occurs, use absorbent materials to clean it up.

Use water-based paint where possible; this can be washed out into inside sinks, or onto unsealed surfaces.

For more, see Preventing pollution: paint (PDF 343KB).


Lime is a major component of cement and is found in concrete products. It dissolves in water to produce an alkaline solution that will burn and kill fish, insects and plants.

Diluting doesn't work, as it takes 100,000 litres of fresh water to dilute a bucket of concrete wastewater to a neutral pH.

Never allow concrete slurry or wastewater to enter the stormwater drains. Sweep or shovel up all slurry for disposal, and divert wastewater to an unsealed area, or use a wetvac to remove it.

For more, see Preventing pollution: concrete (PDF 483KB).


Waterblasting wash water is much more concentrated than ordinary rain runoff.

Contaminants such as grime, algae, moss, mould, lichen, sediment, grease and paint chips must not enter the stormwater system as they can affect aquatic life.

Divert wash water away from stormwater drains onto unsealed ground. If you are waterblasting a roof, disconnect downpipes or block them off.

If you are using a moss and mould remover, treat it like any other potentially harmful chemical and ensure no runoff enters the stormwater system.

For more, see Preventing pollution: waterblasting (PDF 349KB).

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