A frog-friend from a village near the Tukituki River can remember swimming in the river regularly as a child, but he says that the last time he visited (to take his nieces and nephews for a swim) it was pretty disgusting and had obviously become a lot more polluted in the intervening years.
Yesterday, Tom Belford at the Baybuzz blog posted some gross photos of algae blooms in the Tukituki River at the moment. He writes: “In case you thought the Tukituki has been getting cleaned up, here are some recent photos to set you straight. ”
The slime is associated with low flows due to over-allocation of the water during summer drought flows, plus too much “nutrient” primarily from agricultural run-off and town sewage. With climate change predicted to reduce the flow in Hawke’s Bay rivers even further, it has never been more urgent to manage this river sustainably.
We’ve known about the Tukituki’s plight for a long time – and the reputation of one of New Zealand’s most renowned trout fishery has been degraded. NIWA scientist Kit Rutherford recently gave the Hawkes’s Bay Regional Council a rocket over their management of the Tukituki, after Russel Norman said similar last year. Baybuzz says that “the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has some promising plans afoot to get on with the clean-up”, but that real action seems to be slow in coming. He encourages readers to send a photo to their local Councillor. Frog suggests readers should also write a quick submission on your local Councils’ plans, where-ever you live, calling on them to set a goal of making such rivers swimmable again in their plans.
Nationwide progress would be so much easier if our Government would pass a national standard to require all rivers and lakes to be suitable for swimming, and require a timetable for the clean-up of the many that do not meet this standard at present. So perhaps an email to your local National MP? If you’re in Hawke’s Bay, email Craig Foss and Chris Tremain about the Tukituki today.