Cool. Today a new campaign has been launched for one of New Zealand’s most iconic features – our Wild Rivers.
It’s great to see diverse groups – tree-huggers, deer-stalkers, bird-watchers, knobbly-kneed trampers, sharp-edged climbers, risky rafters, kool-kat kayakers, and angelic anglers – representing “over 100,000 New Zealanders” and united in seeking to protect wild rivers from inappropriate and unnecessary hydro-electric and irrigation water storage dams.
They’re not saying no hydro or storage anywhere, but that we have a finite number of wild rivers left, and must protect them from being picked off one-by-one.
The groups are Fish & Game, Federated Mountain Clubs, Forest & Bird, Whitewater NZ, the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ, the NZ Rafting Association, the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers and the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ.
The various groups point out the public values for conservation and recreation that are inherent to wild rivers, and are lost if they are dammed. For Whitewater NZ it’s enjoyment of the water, and the tourism industry; for Fish and Game it’s the fishing, of course, and the importance of Water Conservation Orders (that the Govt seems keen to get rid of); for FMC it’s the ability to walk and camp in a natural setting, of which wild rivers form the “lifeblood”; and Forest and Bird cite the unique wild river wildlife – native eels and fish, and endangered blue ducks.
The groups have fought hard for decades to get protection of wild lakes and rivers such as Lake Manapouri and the mighty Motu River. Water conservation orders have been a crucial tool in protecting such waterways, but the future of the orders, and the fate of dozens of other threatened wild rivers, is in peril.
They also note that we’ve already sacrificed many wild rivers, so there are a finite number left. They say, “Damming them is irresponsible and short-sighted, especially when there are much more responsible and sustainable options.” They’ve done their homework on the energy and irrigation needs too, which a summary of the alternative solution, and the choice, on their website. They also think that:
Energy planning must become more strategic, focusing on efficiency rather than building more dams. The Electricity Commission has said that NZ could make savings of 6400 gigawatt hours a year – equivalent to 20 Mokihinui dams – at less cost than building new electricity generators. New Zealand also has plentiful wind and geothermal resources that can be better developed to generate electricity. Innovative emerging technologies also show promise.
Industrial-scale farming is demanding more water from rivers to irrigate land that is naturally too dry for dairy cows. Farming use should be appropriate to the climate and land.
I’ve signed up as a supporter on their ‘oarsome’ website. Please join me!