Reports a reminder of need for action on freshwater

Two important studies revealing the state of our freshwater came out last week, and the news is disappointing.

The first comes from NIWA, and updates water quality trends at the 77 National River Water Quality Network sites, which have been monitored over the last 20 years. The study confirmed that waterways flowing through farmland have higher levels of nitrogen and phosphorous than those that flow through unfarmed land. Wow, who’d have thunk it?

Of the 77 sites tested, nitrogen levels rose at 52 sites and fell at none. Phosphorous levels increased at 22 sites and fell at only nine. NIWA’s principal scientist Rob Davies-Colley puts it plainly: “It’s farm use of land that is driving our water quality in the wrong direction.”

The second report, authored by Dr Mike Joy from Massey University’s Institute of Natural Resources, shows that intensive farming is killing my dear friends, our freshwater fish species. The study reviewed 22,500 records of fish communities nationally and found they show significant decline over the past 40 years. Dr Joy says, “Our freshwater ecosystems are in dire straits and more than half of our native freshwater fish species are classed as being at risk of extinction.”

What a timely reminder of the urgent need for the government to set enforceable water quality standards, and embark on a large scale programme of fencing and riparian planting of waterways, a ‘Green New Deal’ project we estimate could create over 2000 new jobs.

Let’s hope the Government’s endorsement of a collaborative governance process for freshwater, the Land and Water Forum, will come up with strong recommendations for action on both these points. Our children have the right to swim in our rivers and lakes, and we owe it to the species and ecosystems that rely on clean water to survive and thrive.

5 thoughts on “Reports a reminder of need for action on freshwater

  1. Talking about water rights, I don’t hear much about the Queens Chain these days as I did twenty years ago.
    It now seems to be riparian borders.

    If a concept like the Queens Chain was vigorously enforced, then I think that would go a long way to clean up our waterways.
    I have a strong suspicion that some politicians and agribusiness interests want us to forget about the Queens Chain.

    I never ever buy bottled water on principle, such industries have a cheek to sell what should be ours to sustain life.
    Also it is very likely that such scams have local bodies in their pocket.
    Think how many public water drinking fountains are in your city centers. how many have been taken away and how many there were twenty years ago.

    Cheers

    Grunt Drakula

  2. I agree. I reckon its the groundwork for the wholesale distribution of Aotearoa’s fresh water to whomever has the most money.

    I remember one of the big arguments for the privatisation of the supply of water in Auckland was that it would result in a lowering of the daily usage of most homes, thus assisting with conservation. Now, in 2009, I’m told that part of the reason that the price of water is going up is that there has been a drop in demand. The theiving bastards have turned water into a commodity subject to greed rather than need.

    The only collaborative governance process for freshwater we will see from John Key National Government Inc is a lively auction.

  3. Let’s hope the Government’s endorsement of a collaborative governance process for freshwater, the Land and Water Forum, will come up with strong recommendations for action on both these points.

    Not a sh*t-show, I reckon.

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