Twenty years of pollution

NIWA have put out a release summarising the trends from 20 years of monitoring river water quality.

The National Rivers Water Quality Network collects data from 77 sites across the country. The dataset they have is the longest and most wide reaching water quality data set in the country.

What is shows is not a great surprise: water quality in natural catchments is good; water quality in pastoral catchmetns is bad and getting worse; point source pollution is improving (eg sewerage treatment plant outfalls).

Doesn’t matter how many times Federated Farmers denies it, the truth keeps coming back:

However, nitrogen and phosphorus levels have increased at many sites due largely to ‘diffuse pollution’ from pastoral farming – with increased stocking rates and use of fertilisers, and conversion of land used for sheep/beef farming to dairy or deer farms.

Which makes you wonder why we don’t have a moratorium on conversions in at-risk catchments until we have some controls in place to deal with dairy conversions.

4 Comments Posted

  1. artyone:
    milk powder is not just a food, it’s also casein, a protein used in polymer manufacture – ie: part of the petrochemicals-to-plastics loop.

    Yep, a lot of milk powder is going to third world countries as baby food, (tautological in a country where clean water supplies are in short supply, but it’s mostly bought by American aid agencies, then given as part of a trade-for-aid deal) but a large amount of the total increase over the past few years has been going into stockpiles.

    The Bush II Administration was so fixated on keeping a war going in the Euphrates Valley (Old Persia/ Border between Iraq/Iran) that they were accumulating significant stockpiles of dehydrated food supplies, not just for military use, but also for bunker supplies in the many storage facilities maintained stateside. (In case of retaliation causing food supply disruption in the ‘homeland’)

    It will be interesting to see if Obama’s view of “Homeland Security” is as paranoid and elitist as that held by the previous administration, and whether, if he tries to tone things down, his Chiefs-of-Staff will let it happen, given the conditioning they’ve instilled in the State Department over that last 8 years.

  2. I do like eating meat, I can’t deny it, but I suppose in this instance it’s not really about meat eating at all is it. It’s about the creation of milk powder to feed the industries elsewhere in the world who create products to feed there populations.

    I’ve seen some of the stuff these farmers have to do to change over to dairying and it seems they are spending a big bunch of money on construction that seems to be more about councils making big money from the consents while also making the places worth more so they can charge higher rates.

    Now if we just held off on this super duper flash bloody construction binge and spent some money on putting buffer areas around the run offs then surely the problems of water purity could be solved quite easily.

    Its a typical modern human foible when planning ahead that the big change takes precedence over doing things a bit at a time. The big change thing means making loans and then packing as much change into the budget as can be squeezed within the rule book. This kind of progress never takes the time to see gradual effects as small changes occur and so it usually is quite the risky enterprise in real terms… but its what the banks like to see and unless you can figure out a way to tie mortage payments into land and watershed health, being they become lower if the enviroment is damaged, then you’ve only got legislation to put sticking plasters on the whole sorry mess.

  3. Federated Farmers are apologists for the polluters. One day, they’ll be taken to account. The sooner the better.

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