Water quality too important for bird-brained excuses

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, September 1st, 2016 - 57 comments
Categories: farming, national, science, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, water, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , , , ,

There doesn’t seem to be any level that National won’t stoop to in order to make excuses for plundering and polluting the environment. I’ve heard some nonsense in my time, but this…

Swimmable lakes would require a bird cull – Smith

It’s impossible to make all New Zealand lakes and lagoons swimmable without a massive bird cull, the Environment Minister Nick Smith says. …

It wasn’t so long ago (a blink of a geological eye) that NZ was covered in forest, teeming with birds, and awash with pure water. It’s not the birds that are the problem here. The Greens:

Blaming birds for poor water quality is a load of quackery

Environment Minister Nick Smith’s excuse that pollution from birds and geothermal activity is the real reason why his Government will not commit to swimmable rivers is completely baseless, the Green Party said today.

Dr Smith said last night that amending the Government’s policy on water so that the minimum mandatory standard for rivers is that they are safe for swimming is ‘impractical’, and cited bird colonies and geothermal activity as reasons why.

“We asked the regional councils how many waterways in their area are affected by birds and geothermal or volcanic activity, and the numbers are minimal,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty. …

The cause of our water problems – the worst levels of waterborne gastrointestinal diseases in the OECD – is not birds or geothermal, it is intensive dairy farming. Listen to an actual scientist, the one and only Dr Mike Joy, set out the facts in this 10 minute webcast.
mike-joy-on-nz-water
Oddly enough the distributions of nitrate and ecoli indicators of poor water quality matches the distribution of cows.

Havelock North is just the largest and most recent outbreak of water borne disease. It has happened before and it will happen again. There is now a discussion of the question of whether all NZ drinking water should be chlorinated. I’m with Russel Norman on this one, the better approach would be to stop putting shit in the water.


Further reading:
Coming soon to a town near you – undrinkable water
Poisoning the wells: a history of infected drinking water in Canterbury
Christchurch’s drinking water contaminated 125 times in four years
Farmers reject blame over water contamination
‘100% Pure’ reputation could take another hit after Havelock North water fail


A photo essay by David Parker in the Hawke’s Bay:


Personal note: I’ve work to do elsewhere for a bit. Back in a couple of months.

57 comments on “Water quality too important for bird-brained excuses”

  1. Jenny Kirk 1

    Up here in the north – around Whangarei and down towards the Kaipara – we have someone, Millan Ruka, who has for the past few years been leading the fight locally against contamination of numerous streams and rivers by farming practices.

    He gets publicity and has documented hundreds (maybe thousands) of instances where cattle have been polluting waterways just like the photos David Parker has taken. And he is gradually making the regional council understand its importance. Fonterra have joined in, but its an uphill battle getting the farmers to understand the damage they’re doing.

    It seems its a massive problem throughout NZ – when are the authorities going to wake up to it and really start putting it right.

  2. BM 2

    It wasn’t so long ago (a blink of a geological eye) that NZ was covered in forest, teeming with birds, and awash with pure water. It’s not the birds that are the problem here

    Introduction of birds

    In New Zealand, early settlers introduced over 20 different species of wildfowl and upland game birds, but few became naturalised. From the 1860s, acclimatisation societies played a pivotal role in systematically importing, managing and, later, protecting wildfowl and other animals and birds. The Protection of Certain Animals Act 1861 encouraged importing creatures from Europe, including partridges, swans, rooks and starlings, largely to provide hunting opportunities. Societies also regulated the shooting of native species classified as game, including ducks and other wetland birds.

    Loss of wetlands

    Many wetlands were drained in order to become farmland. In the 2000s, duck hunting survives on a dramatically reduced wetland resource – approximately 13% of its original area – which favours more adaptable species, notably the mallard and paradise shelduck (dubbed ‘parries’).

    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/duck-shooting/page-1

  3. Pat 3

    At what point is it decided a Minister is not fit for purpose?

    • lprent 3.1

      I suspect, on the basis of the regard that politicians are held in, that many people would consider that to be when they are elected.

      However I suspect that what you meant was when John Key would decide that lying Nick wasn’t fit for purpose? If so then the answer is obvious – not for a while. After all if John Key dumps his public fool, then people and the media are likely to start concentrating on the next most awful minister. Now Tim Groser has departed, that become a tossup between Judith Collins and John Key – who has been a bloody awful minister in every portfolio he has mismanaged.

      • Pat 3.1.1

        If Ministers are selected from the governing caucus on the basis of capability by the PM then there must be either a party full of incompetents (or a lot of aggrieved members) or an incompetent appointer….Nick,Paula,Gerry are a few that present themselves.

        • AmaKiwi 3.1.1.1

          @ Pat

          “If Ministers are selected from the governing caucus on the basis of capability by the PM. . . ”

          Ministers are NOT chosen for their capability! If they were, ministers would be experts in the field they are minister of and therefore probably NOT from the caucus or even parliament.

          We are killing ourselves off because our political system is NOT designed to serve the long term good of ALL the people and future generations. It is designed to serve the immediate greed of those who won the last election.

          End elected dictatorships. The people must control parliament, not the other way around.

          • Pat 3.1.1.1.1

            you failed to note the qualification…”from the governing caucus”.

            It is a limited pool…. whether or not it is the best process is irrelevant for it is the process under which we operate.

            • AmaKiwi 3.1.1.1.1.1

              @ Pat

              If we don’t change the process we are doomed.

              • Pat

                perhaps so….but I posed the question in relation to the current situation not some hypothetical future.

                • AmaKiwi

                  It is always the current situation.

                  No one gets elected to parliament because they are an expert in anything except getting elected.

                  I’m finished supporting any party because they are the lesser of 2 evils. I’m telling MPs, “Fix the system or STFU.”

                  It’s like climate change and the consumer economy. A few energy saving gadgets give the illusion of change but are meaningless in the bigger picture. Some new talking head in that cabinet post is equally useless in our elected dictatorship.

                  • Pat

                    I sympathise but the system(democracy) can work but is dependent on the quality of the politician, and we are poorly served there. Ministers do not need to be experts but they should have the ability to sift the advice available AND act in the best interests of the entire country.
                    To require each portfolio to be filled by a suitably qualified individual would by necessity sideline democracy…..which may be an option some wish to explore.

                    • AmaKiwi

                      @ Pat

                      You may have misunderstood me.

                      What I want IS democracy. Democracy is defined as rule by the people.

                      What we have is a “representative democracy.” We elect them but for the next 3 years they decide for us and there’s nothing we can do about it.

                      I want the people to have the means to over-rule representatives when the majority of the voters disagree with a particular action they have taken (or failed to take). That does not mean anarchy. It means on any particular issue WE have the final say, not them.

                      Governments elsewhere have this restraint on elected officials and it works just fine. Why not NZ?

                  • Pat

                    you are right, i have misunderstood you…i thought you were calling for technocrats. Government by binding referenda doesn’t solve the expert problem any more than representative democracy.

      • Observer Tokoroa 3.1.2

        .
        . Hi Lprent

        . “a bloody awful minister..

        . I shouldn’t have smiled at you neat scheduling of the removal of Dumb Ass ministers of John Key’s shabbynet. In fact, I just laughed out loud.

        . We have to understand that the National Ministers are chosen for their inbuilt imbecility. They have unlimited access to NZ Imbeciles in waiting. I am thinking of Paula hanging around John. Is she being skilled by Nick Evans? Or is she attending one of Hekia’s magic Charter Schools for Fools?

        .

    • Johan 3.2

      To Pat: Nick Smith has a doctorate, so you would think he would be able to rub a few neurones together???

      • Pat 3.2.1

        In engineering no less….you would expect a better performance on that basis …guess it goes to show that formal qualifications are not a guarantee of anything.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.1

          +1

          No matter what anyone says it needs to be judged on how it compares and relates to reality.

          Almost nothing that National says relates to reality.

  4. Keith 4

    Nick Smith yesterday:

    “…Most of our rivers breach the 540 E coli count required for swimming during heavy rainfall.”

    Dr Smith said some lakes and lagoons were home to many birds, which pollute the water with E coli.

    He gave the example of Manawatu’s Lake Papaitonga, which people can’t swim in unless there’s a massive cull of the birds.

    Nick Smith a bit later in the day………..

    “”What I want to make quite plain is that I am certainly not saying – and did not say in the speech – that either our native or introduced birds are the primary challenge that we have around water quality”.

    Yes you did Nick, on the same day no less. By twisting your words like you do because you couldn’t say anything candidly if your life depended on it, you made it quite clear that BIRDS were the problem, not a mention of cows, nothing!

    Is it me or is the National Party’s response to any situation nowadays to just plain lie? Or where they always like that and we didn’t notice?

    • dukeofurl 4.1

      They couldnt blame this one on labour, so they blamed our feathered friends

      • JonL 4.1.1

        One of the traits of psychopaths is that they NEVER take responsibility for anything – it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault!
        Sound familiar?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      Is it me or is the National Party’s response to any situation nowadays to just plain lie? Or where they always like that and we didn’t notice?

      Reality has never matched National’s ideology and so they’ve always had to lie.

  5. esoteric pineapples 5

    Farmers will love this. They love exterminating any animal life that they deem eats into their profits. That’s why most of rural New Zealand is actually a green desert devoid of life.

    • And plants. Leguminous trees, natives that are poisonous to stock, even manuka – remember the importation of an insect that carried the manuka-killing blight, sold to farmers who spread it across the country in order to kill manuka? It doesn’t serve the farm? Gotta go. Kauri, kahikatea, rimu, totora – cattle and sheep can’t eat them – out they go! Explosives, fire, disease and now, better than anything before it, herbicide! Then there are the multitudes of smaller organisms that challenge the farmer, his/her stock, their pastures, but no worries, we have pesticides, rodenticides, fungicides, molluscicides, nematodicides, anthelmintics – we’ve got a full-to-bursting poisons cupboard and we’re gonna use it!
      Now, it seems, we’ll be breaking out the avianicides. ‘Cause.

    • b waghorn 5.2

      Some is a great word try using it as in some farmers , like i use when i say some lefties(not all) are so full of hate towards farmers that anything they say is not worth shit.

      • Got it. Some farmers are worse than others.
        (Just raggin’ ya, b waghorn. “Biological” farmers, “organic” farmers, “biodynamic farmers” – there are all sorts with differing approaches to farming, we know this.)

        • b waghorn 5.2.1.1

          If you called in on the block i look after i could in not much time at all show you a variety of wild ducks ,hawks , magpies, turkeys , Pheasants (my favorite) goats ,deer if you’re lucky ,rabbits the odd hare and all the small birds oh and a falcon on occasion, i use a bit of spray on the blackberry and the worst thistles but now i’m on top of the thistles i use the grubber mostly, theirs trout in the stream eels in the creek, totara allover the show, it,s a bloody dessert out here i tell you.

          • weka 5.2.1.1.1

            Nice one b. Are those feral deer and goats? You got a bit of bush then?

            • b waghorn 5.2.1.1.1.1

              yes wild deer and goats, there are pockets of bush all through this area and the deer roam as they please .

          • Robert Guyton 5.2.1.1.2

            “Block”?
            That’s an interesting descriptor.
            Imagine being “on top of the thistles”!
            But yes, b waghorn, the last word is yours and well done that man!
            ” it’s a bloody dessert out here i tell you.”
            Nice!

  6. dukeofurl 6

    When they have looked at even large birds like Canada geese the results are …

    “Results indicate Canada geese potentially contribute only a very small proportion of the overall modelled nitrogen and phosphorus load to the Haldon and Ahuriri Arms of Lake Benmore .

    Essentially its fractions of a %, thats even with the assumption that they graze on land but only defecate on the lake
    And this from an area where the numbers were a ‘problem’
    http://ecan.govt.nz/publications/Plans/nutrient-lakes-geese-upper-waitaki.pdf

  7. “The adverse effects of stock in waterways has been known for decades, but
    only four of our 16 regional councils have been able to advance rules to
    address the problem. I have spoken to a dozen regional councillors who have
    tried in good faith to make progress but the local backlash has made it too
    hard.”

    Nick Smith

    • weka 7.1

      What we need up and running very fast is a mobilisation of the regional council vote in the upcoming local body election. With big arrows pointing to the candidates who will actually do something about water. My sense is that each council doesn’t have enough pro-water councillors. Get enough councillors, and support them, and they have a better chance of standing up to Fed Farmers.

      We need sit ins at council meetings, placards outside in front of the media, direct action.

      • Ha! Here’s my “candidate profile” requested by The Southland Times to go with their series on those standing for the regional council:

        “The regional council is heavy with farmers. Council decisions favour farming at the expense of the environment, in my view. I challenge proposals that lead to the expansion of farming and the loss of natural places and resources, like fresh water. Representatives of the towns and city like me have to speak up on every issue that would turn the countryside into one big farm, because we all need forests and rivers to visit and enjoy. In any case, our drinking water comes from there, so it mustn’t get polluted.”

  8. Nick Smith is living proof that having no sense of shame greatly assists success in politics.

  9. ianmac 9

    “Back in a couple of months.”
    You will be missed Anthony. Your posts are always “Must Reads.”

  10. ianmac 10

    Mike Joy’s clip is great if chilling. Of course Key will dig up some other “expert” who will contest Mike’s position. Someone like Dr Smith perhaps?
    Again http://webcast.massey.ac.nz/Mediasite/Play/15c004bce02a4127806e5faab8ee49e11d

  11. Bill 11

    Surely a cull of the peacocks in parliament would be a better way to clean things up. I mean, their shit sprays everywhere

  12. Brigid 12

    Dairy farmers: Cashing in the country’s environmental wealth.

  13. Michelle 13

    So Labours Trevor Mallard isn’t the only one that comes up with bird brain ideas we now have Nick Smith following in his footsteps.
    On another note Chris bishop could do with a new car his car was emitting smoke and gases this morning on the Wellington motorway just like his party all smoke and gas and very toxic

  14. Pat 14

    “The answer, she says, must be massive investment in water infrastructure. “But in the US alone, it’s estimated that what is needed is $70 per person per day for 10 years. In developing countries its far more.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/31/cleaning-the-worlds-water-we-are-now-more-polluted-than-we-have-ever-been

    but don’t worry, we are assured that its improving……

  15. Gerald 15

    Its birds that now are the problem, makes a change from Labour created this problem, its people on the benifit that are the problem, P uses are the problem etc but its never the government that’s the problem. Look in the mirror Smith and co!

    • Halfcrown 15.1

      “Its birds that now are the problem, makes a change from Labour created this problem,”

      Nah you have missed the point, It is all those socialist communist birds that vote Labour that are causing the problems.

  16. Andre 16

    Keas, crows and many other birds have proven reasoning and problem-solving skills. It seems slanderous to our feathered friends to describe Smith’s efforts as “bird-brained”.

  17. Stuart Munro 17

    This is just retrospective justification for the 1080 drop right? Because riparian planting or similar mitigation is just unimaginably hard for some reason.

  18. rhinocrates 18

    Smith’s Guide to Ornithology:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CrPTG-IVUAAYgTE.jpg

  19. Peter 19

    God Nick Smith a thick dip stick.

  20. Peter 20

    I have for the last six years been working on a way of capturing excess nutrients as they leach off farms. They can then be reused again. The same system reduces erosion (sediment) and provides a stable growing platform for plants (bio-filtration) right up to the waters edge.

    For filtering it uses a natural mineral (not zeolite) that holds the nutrients within its cell structure. Going on the average PPM (parts per million) in NZ waterways it will take up to 15 years to reach capacity.

    Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? which is probably why I have got nowhere here in NZ. But I’m starting a trial in the USA within a few weeks where they can see the benefits of my ideas and if successful it will be replicated in a much larger scale.

    So why have I written this? Because we are our own worst enemy when it comes to taking action, when someone does stand up they are quickly shot down as being in it only for the money.

    We use ideas that originate in nature as we believe that the cure for most of the problems created by man can be found in nature.

  21. Selwyn 21

    New Zealand farmers are famous for growing grass. Replace dairy with hemp

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