Feds play games over Manawatu clean up

So, 27 organisations in the Manawatu region including city & regional council, industrial players, iwi and environment groups have signed an historic agreement, committing to clean up the polluted Manawatu river.

Great stuff. Only problem is, the farmers aren’t playing ball. Federated Farmers have so far refused to sign the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord, not because of tough standards or costs imposed on their members, but because of emotive ‘descriptors’ in the document. They object to the river being described as “dirty, lacking life and culturally compromised.”

Are they for real? This is the river that was found to rate the worst of 300 international rivers in Cawthron Institute research released last year. It ranks in the bottom 10 of 77 monitored sites in the National River Water Quality league tables for all three measures: biological health, clarity and nutrient levels.

It really isn’t that surprising. As Russel pointed out after his kayaking trip on the river in March, this is a river facing multiple pressures; it is a long river with denuded headwaters, it is shallow and often has low flows, there are numerous point source discharges from councils and industry, and it’s a heavily farmed catchment resulting in nutrient and effluent run-off.

The problems are by no means down to farmers alone. But for the Feds to refuse to sign up to action on the Manawatu because the document describes the river as “dirty” really signals a new low in their head in the sand approach to water quality.

Media reports indicate they may sign the document today. Let’s hope they’ve set the pettiness aside and seen the light – better late than never.

8 Comments Posted

  1. yea all that denial the dirty buggers call it clean when its proven extremely dirty. Yet the are still putting the shit in the river. How does that work.

  2. Well, imagine that! All the politicians all over the world are the same I guess. At least you are not in the environmental disaster that is happening in the Gulf coast from the BP oil spill! They don’t want to sign because its a “dirty” river? Well who is gonna clean it up?

  3. The Fed Farmers term for ‘dirty’ is ‘clean’.
    They borrowed it from Solid Energy, who use it to describe coal.
    ‘Clean’ – it has an aspirational ring to it, don’t you think.
    (‘Don’t you think’ isn’t a question, btw).

  4. Love it, Sprout – ’emotional’ indeed! I wonder what the non-emotive term for ‘dirty’ is? Contaminated? That sounds worse to me.

  5. You can imagine a John Clarke take on this:
    Intvwr: “The river is dirty, lacking life and culturally compromised”
    JC as Feds: “You don’t need go over the top and all emotional!”
    Intvwr:”What exactly do you regard as emtional in that statement?”
    Feds: “Well the word ‘dirty’ for a start, now the shit from my cow shed-that’s dirty, but by the time it’s washed down the creek to the river it’s hardly dirty at all!
    Intvwr: “If not dirty, what would you call it?”
    Feds:”Slight discolouration, if it was really dirty I wouldn’t use it to wash my tractor or the dog, they wouldn’t come out any cleaner”
    Intvwr:”You can hardly call ‘lacking in life’ emotional then?
    Feds: “Hell yeah, it’s completely over the top. There’s heaps of life in that river, all that green stuff and weed is hardly dead!
    Intvwr: “perhaps it was in reference to fish?”
    Feds: “Oh they’re there alright, you just can’t see them because of the weed”.
    Intvwr: “You surely can’t object to the cultural aspect?”
    Feds: “What’s bloody ballet got to do with a river!?

  6. for what it is worth I’d have to agree with this blog’s header conclusion..

    after what was heard coming from a Feds’ spokesman for the locals there on radio yesterday.. soundly positively power-struck.. IMO a better cf than that of a bride late for the wedding!

    time they appointed speakers capable of being part and parcel with their communities..

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