Does Nick Smith think New Zealanders are stupid? His dirty rivers spin sure makes it look that way.
Just calling the standards for wading and boating “swimmable” is not progress. At 540 Ecoli per 100mL, the new “swimmable’ means 1 in 20 people are at risk of getting sick. Is this what thousands of people meant by changing the National Policy Statement on freshwater? I don’t think so.
National’s big idea for water quality is “sometimes swimmable some of the time” which is pretty much where we are right now. The scientist they are relying on, Graham McBride, agreed on Morning Report that this way of measuring was “less precautionary”. In other words, even their own scientist admits National’s water standards are less stringent than before.
We support more planting and fencing as a way of improving waterways but we know a lot more is needed. The lowland rivers are stressed by sediment, nutrients and pathogens. They are being used up by water takes for irrigation on large dairy farms and some water is being taken for bottling for export. We need a change to the way large farms are managed and cow numbers should be reduced.
Rivers that are puddles of algae over summer might be swimmable in mid-winter but so what? We need rivers to be healthy all year around and we want to swim in freshwater in summer. The Green party will keep standing up for truly swimmable water. That truly swimmable water is our children’s birthright. Protect the water cycle not the spin cycle.