Today the government announced the final version of its national standards for freshwater. They’re trying desperately to pretend that these will improve water quality, but nothing could be further from the truth. The standards have been panned by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, as they allow water quality to be further degraded from its already-polluter state. And as the Greens point out, their “bottom line” isn’t rivers that are safe to swim in, but ones which are safe for wading and boating, where skin contact won’t kill you (but accidental ingestion might). National are happy for rivers which we can’t swim in and which kill our pets, because they view our recreation and use as less important than farmers’ use of our rivers as open sewers for their cowshit.
I can’t think of a better example of how bad these “bottom lines” are than to point out that the toxic sewer of lake Waikare, where the water is blood-red with algae, and the fish and birds have disappeared, would meet National’s “standards”. Campbell Live found that it had a Nitrogen level of 5.4mg/L. The government’s bottom line is 6.9. According to the government, Lake Waikare is perfectly fine, nothing to see here, move along. And that sums up their attitude perfectly.
This is not a “balance” between the economy and the environment. It is destroying the environment for the profit of a few. And I’d like to see political parties making clear statements that these “bottom lines” will be improved, to outlaw pollution and make our rivers safe to swim in.