Flushing out the waste water problem

Catherine at Selwyn Huts - River algae

Alongside the massive problem of 10 million cattle and their waste entering our waterways, is the lesser but vexed issue of human waste. All over the country, councils struggle with developing wastewater systems that actually work and do not pollute the environment. Success is very mixed because disposal of wastewater and solids to land or […]

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Swimmable Rivers tour – Waikirikiri/Selwyn

Catherine at Selwyn Huts - River algae

This week, we had our second stop on our Swimmable Rivers tour, this time in Canterbury at the Waikirikiri/Selwyn River. I had a great day with our two Canterbury MPs Eugenie Sage and Mojo Mathers and our amazing Christchurch staff. The Waikirikiri/ Selwyn rivers runs from the hills to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere through the plains. […]

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Havelock North outbreak – what might have caused it

Tukituki River.
Credit: Ulrich Lange, Dunedin, New Zealand - Wikimedia Commons

The cause of the contamination in Havelock’s water remains unclear. It has been established that bacterial contamination from a ruminant animal (cow, deer, or sheep) resulted in people becoming ill. We also know heavy rain and surface flooding occurred just before the outbreak, and prior to that warm and dry conditions had caused cracks to form […]

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The dairy downturn

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It was interesting in Parliament this week, listening to the Prime Minister repeatedly say “I don’t know” to straightforward questions from Green co-leader James Shaw about the effect the dairy downturn will have on farmers, small businesses and rural retailers dependent on a good price on milk solids for their prosperity. In fact, his admission […]

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The Government’s fresh water reforms aren’t so fresh after all

Last weekend the Government put out a consultation document on cleaning up freshwater called Next Steps for Fresh Water. it has have to look like it’s doing something big, because we are now at a crisis point with water quality. However we are disappointed in the plans, which lack some fundamental and essential commitments to […]

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Successful effort to raise the issue of GE trees in proposed standard

Many thousands of people submitted on the proposed National Environmental Standard –  Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).  A vast majority of the public submissions were particularly focussed on the NES having included GE trees in its mandate. People want these provisions removed, as do we. There were also some very useful detailed, technical submissions concerned about the […]

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Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large increases in cow numbers are resulting in excess nitrogen and thus pollution in water ways. […]

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Smarter thinking, not bigger thinking, needed to manage our water resources

Right now there is a perfect storm for some farmers, but no rain. Drought and commodity prices are hitting hard and creating stress. This is not a new experience, but if drought in particular becomes the new normal, pressure on water resources will increase. It is a challenge to everyone but particularly in Canterbury and […]

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Dirty dairying: more cows at the expense of clean water

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Last week, another dairy farmer, this time in Taranaki, was fined $66,000 for recidivist water pollution when he discharged cow effluent into groundwater and a stream. The judge said the farmer’s offending was “wilful, blind and his attitude was negligent in the extreme”. Despite Federated Farmers saying this was terribly unusual, this farmer is not […]

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Councils need to better protect our drinking water

Environment Canterbury (ECan) is proposing several variations to its regional land and water plan that will allow for increased nutrient and other pollution from irrigation and intensive agriculture on the Canterbury Plains. Commissioners are hearing submissions on Variation 1 to the proposed Land and Water Plan and I popped along to listen. Variation 1 covers […]

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The Waitaki River needs our help

Environment Canterbury (ECan) is proposing a major change to the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan. This change would reduce the river’s minimum flow by a third (from 150 to 102 cubic meters per second) for periods over the summer. A lower minimum flow risks even poorer water quality, more didymo infestation, increased predation of braided riverbed birds nesting […]

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Silver Fern Farms fails the Waimakariri River

[UPDATED] Silver Fern Farms Ltd’s recent application to Environment Canterbury to discharge treated meatworks waste(3500 cubic meters per day) including fat and faecal matter into the Waimakariri River highlights why we need change of Government . We need the stronger national bottomlines for water quality and a network of protected rivers as the Green Party […]

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Tukituki Plan decision bad news for Government’s weak water quality rules

Yesterday’s release of the Board of Inquiry’s final decisions on the regional plan provisions for the Tukituki River and catchment as part of the Ruataniwha dam project confirms that National’s favoured approach to bottom lines for water quality will not help our rivers. The Board of Inquiry for the Tukituki Catchment Proposal rejected the Government’s […]

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Conflicts of interest in regional councils’ management of water

Judith Collins failed to recognise the conflict of interest in having dinner with a Chinese border official and the CEO and director of the Oravida company on which her husband is a director. An equally troubling conflict of interest is occurring in regional councils. Water is a common property resource which regional councils manage on […]

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