The people who live in North Shore City (New Zealand) consider the beaches as their greatest asset. Following public outcry on frequent beach pollution caused by wet weather sewer overflows, Project CARE commenced in 1998 to plan the improvements to the city's separated wastewater and stormwater systems to protect the streams and beaches, particularly from a public health perspective. The investigation included building hydrological and hydraulic models to represent the wastewater and stormwater systems and a receiving waters model to simulate the impacts on the beaches. These models were later used to explore options for improvement.
It was found that North Shore City has a very leaky wastewater system that is under capacity. The resulting wet weather overflows (12 per year on average) are the most important contributor to the problem although stormwater pollution alone is big enough to cause problems (at a smaller magnitude). A cost optimisation model (iterative process using performance/cost relationships) was then used to assist in identifying the optimal set of improvement works (storage, repair and increased capacity, wastewater treatment plant) to meet different performance targets and to cater for growth up to the year 2050. Cost Benefit analyses, looking at improvements in system performance and water quality, show diminishing returns for performance levels better than 2 overflows per year. The total costs that meet this target are estimated at almost NZ$300M (US$135M).