January water woes

Summer should be about lazy days at the beach, picnics on the riverbank and swimming. But increasingly we have a new summer ritual of warnings in newspapers around the country; warnings telling you to stay out of the local beaches, lakes and many of the rivers where families and friends have traditionally gathered each summer.

This January alone there have been more than 20 such warnings. The one that takes the cake however is the high bacteria count in Marlborough’s Taylor River forcing an annual raft race to take place on dry land, along the riverbank.

Here are some results of a quick search:

Hawkes Bay, Tukituki; Wellington, Waipoua; Wellington, Ruamahanga; Wellington, Hutt River; Wellington, Henley Lake; Canterbury, Lake Ellesmere; Canterbury, Selwyn River; Canterbury, Ashley River; Canterbury, Opihi River; Canterbury, Pareora River; Nelson, Matakitaki River; Nelson, Mangles River; Nelson, Matiri River; Nelson, Buller River; Manawatu, Oroua; Manawatu, Tokomaru; Manawatu, Mowhanau Stream; Manawatu, Kaikokopu Stream (Print version only); Manawatu, Waikawa Estuary (Print version only); Otago, Lake Waihola; Southland, Aparima River; Southland, Waikaia River; Southland Mataura River.

We shouldn’t have to worry about whether we are going to get sick if we go swimming in our lakes, rivers and estuaries.

We need clean water rules through a stronger National Policy Statement and national environmental standards. When it’s hot we want to be able to head down to the river for a swim just as we did when we were young.


4 Comments Posted

  1. It’s not a silly question, @Marmallard, and I’ve already said that polluted water like this is not acceptable.

    Eugenie states it’s no longer possible to go swimming because of all the warnings, but an alternative conclusion is that it was at least as un-safe to go swimming a few decades ago as it is today, and today we simply know how risky and unhealthy it is.

    If you go out there trying to claim that the water’s more unsafe than it used to be, merely because there are so many warnings, the first counter-argument people will and do throw at you is to state that we measure the water far more today than earlier, and claim that it’s exactly as safe to go swimming as it was in the past.

    Eugenie’s already stated we went swimming heaps in the past, thus implying it was much safer. This merely supports someone’s opposing argument, unless there’s evidence to discredit the less-measurement-decades-ago claim. Thus if water quality actually has been decreasing, it’d be great to kill off that argument by clearly demonstrating that water quality definitely has decreased and that it’s not just more frequent measurement.

    The best approach, though, is probably to establish if it’s unsafe, from what we now know, and then (assuming it’s unsafe) just say “Screw the past and all its ignorance. Here and now we know it’s unhealthy and we need to do fix it so we can safely go swimming.”

  2. Increase in measurement????MM Well we shall really find out the true significance when dogs and animals start dying; then the CHILDREN!!!! It happened a few years ago in the Selwyn River in Canterbury.

    Of course this problem stems from the corrupt local councilors who are the whores of the dairy industry.
    I will give you an example The Selwyn District Council gave Central Plains Water a ‘loan’of $5 million for their water consents last year. That is on top of being nearly $90 million in the red!!!!!!

    We have to thank Cr. Morten for that!!!

    Anyway I passed this article on as a warning to all I know who live on the Canterbury plains.

  3. It’s not acceptable, but is there any way to verify that this increase in warnings is not merely due to an increase in measurement?

  4. The first hurdle is for the agriculture sector to get past the idea that it is their god given right to take as much water as they want, in order to increase their overseas exports. If all were only drawing for their local personal use then we would not be seeing the minimum flows as we do currently. Add to this the local councils acceptance of dumping of un/treated waste into rivers, then of course there are health issues.

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