Pollen season delivers yellow sludge

A fine dusting of yellow pollen that coats the region and collects on water should not be confused with pollutants or unwanted discharges.

During August and September large amounts of pollen are released from a variety of trees and pines in particular. In wet weather the pollen is washed from hard surfaces into drains and waterways where it collects in a thick yellow sludge on top of the water and looks suspiciously like a chemical spill or industrial pollution.

“Every year Wellington Regional Council receives calls from people concerned about yellow tides, particularly around the harbour, river mouths and estuaries,” says, Council’s Manager of Environmental Regulation, Alistair Cross.

“The tree pollen is natural and not a threat to people, the environment or water supplies. In fact, pollen is good protein for micro-organisms and aquatic life. However, if people do come across a yellow sludge and are not sure what they are seeing, we’d rather be notified in case it is something harmful.”

Wellington Regional Council operates a 24-hour Pollution Hotline (free phone 0800 496 734).