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Who needs water anyway

Written By: - Date published: 8:09 am, April 30th, 2016 - 46 comments
Categories: Conservation, farming, national, science, sustainability, water - Tags: , ,

It’s not news that NZ’s water supply is degrading. Pollution is increasing, demand is increasing and supply will become more variable with climate change. Back in January:

Urgent need to act on our water supply

Despite the weekend’s deluge in the north, summer is barely a month old and already some regions are running low on drinking water. Supplies for farm animals and crops are being rationed.

Trucks are delivering water to parched vineyards in Marlborough. As river levels dip in the hottest months, water quality falls. Warning signs beside freshwater lagoons at Piha, Karekare and Bethells because of overloaded septic tanks are a familiar summer sight.

Toxic algae has been detected at 15 freshwater sites in Canterbury. North of Christchurch, people who draw water from rural supplies with shallow intakes must permanently boil water used for drinking, oral hygiene and food preparation.

The pattern is repeated most years. In all likelihood, the task of ensuring towns and cities – and the countryside – have access to clean and sufficient water, as well as water for recreation, is certain to become a pressing issue. It begs questions whether communities are adequately prepared to cope with water supply stresses, and whether agencies which manage fresh water are on top of their game.

The signs are not positive. …

Forest and Bird:

Choose clean water before it’s too late

New Zealanders are witnessing the greatest theft in our country’s history. Our freshwater is being taken away from us.

While one generation watches as progress and growth is unashamedly used to justify the exploitation of our waterways, another waits to inherit toxic freshwater that is off limits to humans and wildlife.

This crisis has been growing for decades and when we’re told that nothing can be done or that there is no problem, we become jaded. …

The Nats are (supposedly) aiming for a “wadeable” water standard. 12,000 people signed a petition calling for a swimmable standard. Naturally:

Government rejects & opposition embraces campaigners’ calls for fresh waterways to be made ‘swimmable’ at the very least

The Government has shut the door on the 12,000 people who have signed a petition calling for a requirement for our fresh waterways to be “swimmable” at the very least.

The Minister for the Environment Nick Smith says it’s “not realistic nor achievable” for the Government to legislate that all freshwater in lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, wetlands and estuaries, be “swimmable” rather than “wadeable”, as is currently the case.

Yet the Labour Party is committing to making “swimmable” the minimum standard if it was to be elected into power. …

Related reading, see Can you believe we’re fighting for clean water in New Zealand?, and yesterday’s press release from the New Zealand Recreation Association:

Freshwater plans must go further, says association

The New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) has expressed concern about a consultation document that sets out the government’s proposals to improve the management of fresh water, saying the document doesn’t go far enough.

Mr Newton said NZRA does not support the Government’s contention that returning already polluted rivers to a swimmable state is impractical or unaffordable. “The Government is proposing that there be a ‘wadeable’ standard of water quality. This is not good enough. Freshwater bodies should be swimmable where possible.”

He said there is a national interest in conservation of freshwater areas, in terms of the value of tourism, biodiversity and recreation. Therefore, a greater share than the 50 per cent proposed in the document should be made available from central government when projects reflect regional gains of national significance. …

It’s not just the surface pollution (like Canterbury’s Lake Forsyth, so poisonous that it is killing sheep and other animals) that is the issue. We have a much more fundamental long term problem:

Scientists warn NZ aquifers are being poisoned by farming

Scientists are warning that our aquifers, the reserves of water under New Zealand’s land surface, are being poisoned by intensive farming.

Although some aquifers are already contaminated, they say the worst is yet to hit because pollutants like nitrate, can take decades to get down to the drinking supply.

Canterbury University’s Dr Jenny Webster-Brown says nitrate will loom large in New Zealand’s future, but it’s already a public health concern. … Pregnant women and mums with young babies on private bores around Ashburton are advised to use bottled water as high nitrate levels can block oxygen in babies and cause the potentially fatal blue baby syndome. Environment Canerbury test results show nitrate hotspots around Canterbury is growing. Nitrate levels also exceed drinking standards in some areas of Southland, Waikato and Bombay due to market gardening leading to nitrate leaching.

But much of the nitrate in underground water now is from farming 30 or 40 years ago, which pre-dates dairy conversions. Dr Webster-Brown says with the dairy industry now using nitrogen, levels will rise distinctly.

Outstanding. Oh and by the way, that big export market that we are always courting has already noticed:

NZ water sent back from China

Hawke’s Bay’s drinking water is not good enough for China, with a shipment of NZ Miracle Water sent back to New Zealand. … “Unfortunately the levels of nitrite were higher than the Chinese standard hence the product was returned.” …

We’ve already locked in an increase in aquifer / supply contamination, but the only sane thing to do is cut back on intensive farming methods immediately. What kind of idiot country screws up its own water supply?



environment-water

water-quality-warning
(Above image Toby Morris)

46 comments on “Who needs water anyway”

  1. save NZ 1

    Great post. +100

    While the Nats spare no money for convention centers and corporate welfare, and no one actually ‘owns’ water, (but it can be sold off for $500 apparently to Oravida), it is clear the Natz have zero interest in preserving the environment, let alone understand it.

    • jcuknz 1.1

      Sadly that is very true.
      and Adam the problem predates the current Nats. [#2]

      • save NZ 1.1.1

        After 8 years of the Natz, I think it is about time to stop blaming Labour.

        Time to join together and get rid of the Natz and their minor party supporters who have allowed the Natz carnage to continue.

        • leftie 1.1.1.1

          +100 SaveNZ, so agree with that.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.2

          After 8 years of the Natz, I think it is about time to stop blaming Labour.

          Labour haven’t been dragging their heels as much as National but they’ve certainly held back the necessary steps needed to encourage the environment to flourish. In fact, they too have pushed for more business and growth of the population in the face of environmental damage.

          • leftie 1.1.1.2.1

            But a new Labour led coalition government with the Greens and NZ First may take the necessary steps to change that.

    • leftie 1.2

      Water is extremely important to everyone, its life, but it is particularly important to Maori. John key sure thought he owned the water when he sold the water rights with the power companies he sold, so why didn’t the Maori party walk away like they did to Labour over the Foreshore and Seabed Act? National’s conflict of interest Oravida is set to make millions dollars a year over the next 30 years for a pittance of $500 p.a. and to add insult to injury, if the corporation drains the local aquifer dry, the deal would require the council to fill it up again by draining the Ashburton River too, a river that already regularly runs dry. (All for the next 30 years). But again, where’s the Maori party on this? One would have expected the Maori party to be outraged like the rest of us are. Not a peep, they are still propping up the Nats.

    • Jack Ramaka 1.3

      Isn’t Judith Collins some how linked to Oravida?

      • leftie 1.3.1

        Yes, her husband is on the board of Oravida. Oravida is a donor to the National party. As we have seen the National government does favours for its donors, Oravida included. Oravida is also involved in the illegal exportation of swamp Kauri as well.

        • Sabine 1.3.1.1

          Jenny Shipley, the dame of National fame was appointed to the board of Oravida.
          With some luck Oravida will now go the ways of Mainzeal.

          • leftie 1.3.1.1.1

            I hope so.

            • leftie 1.3.1.1.1.1

              Jenny Shipley appears to be an unofficial member of John key’s government, her snout is always in the trough, and you can bet she’s one of a number of people pulling his strings.

              “Dame Jenny Shipley has been Chairman of Genesis Energy since November 2009. She is Chairman of the Company’s Nominations Committee and is also a member of the Company’s Human Resources and Remuneration Committee.

              Dame Jenny is chairman of Seniors Money International Limited, Oravida Waters Limited, Oravida NZ Limited and China Construction Bank (New Zealand). Dame Jenny is also chairman of the Advisory Board on transition for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and an executive board member of the New Zealand China Council. Dame Jenny is a member of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority Review Panel and a trustee of the Heart Health Research Trust.”

              <a href="http://www.genesisenergy.co.nz/board-of-directors

              Shipley opened a consultancy firm in Auckland, and her role in overseeing Gerry Brownlee re: Earthquake earns her a $1000 dollars a day pocket money. National as usual takes from those who really need it, and gives to those who don’t.

              • Incognito

                Don’t begrudge Shipley her titles or director & consultancy fees. She’s worked hard for them and they’re well-deserved. In fact, Jenny Shipley got where she’s now through hard work, taking full responsibility for all her actions, and making the right choices since the day of her conception and IMO she’s entitled to everything she can get and she’s born to rule. So, good on her; she’s a role model for all hardworking New Zealanders, particularly women, who want to be successful.

                • Henry Filth

                  Have you ever thought that you may have a mineral imbalance or deficiency in your diet?

                  • Incognito

                    Are you going to provide a remote diagnosis of my mineral homeostasis via TS? If so, please also provide an affordable prescription with that. I may have to ask you for your qualifications because I seem to be getting a few unsolicited diagnoses here on TS by people that don’t know shit about me but think they can read my mind as well as my mineral status as it turns out.

  2. adam 2

    Just one more in a long line of major failures of this national led government.

    I see the Maori party are again long on platitudes to constituents, http://www.maoriparty.org/iwi_rights_to_freshwater of course no leadership on the issue – just more political correctness from them.

    And as always, the Maori party is rock solid supporter of this failed national government.

  3. ianmac 3

    Christchurch is famous for having pure untreated water from deep artesian bores. The water comes from high up in the Alps but the steady increase of pollution means that soon the sniff of chlorinated water will trickle out the Christchurch taps. Who cares?

    • leftie 3.1

      Ianmac. I do. I care !!!

      • ianmac 3.1.1

        Me too leftie. The Christchurch water is a bit hard but like all pure water, it is deliciously tasteless. Compare that with the taste of Auckland water.

  4. ianmac 4

    Great post again Rob. Thanks.

  5. maui 5

    So are we aiming for wadeable rivers with waders on or without? Not sure if they ever made that clear.

    • Stuart Munro 5.1

      The longterm Gnat plan for our rivers is walkable on. Minister of environment should have to drink from all of them.

      • greywarshark 5.1.1

        Do you mean that Gnats don’t care if the water is thick enough with pollution to walk on? Or do you mean that Gnats consider themselves divine and superior to such matters as access to water and healthy pure water, and believe if they want to, they can walk on water? Life is complex these days – perhaps both these propositions are right at the same time.

  6. One Two 6

    Poisoned by primary industry and stolen by private companies and corporations

    Nestle are a prime example

    • Stan D Man 6.1

      Fonterra is not far behind Nestle.

      Water is the last resource to be extracted from the hide of NZ (gold and native timber now being exhausted).

      Sam Mahon’s book “The Water Thieves” tells the true story of farmer greed and local body corruption.

      By the time Christchurch residents are told they will have to drink poisoned aquifer water, the current crop of politicians will all have retired on taxpayer-funded pensions. Many will have sold their dairy farms for tax-free capital gains.

      Nice for some.

  7. One Two 7

    http://illegaleldredtwplanduse.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/planning-commission-passes-water.html?m=1

    The initial lease has an option for 25 years, with two 10 year extensions. Hoffman asked “how is this project good for Eldred Township ,” to which there was no answer.

    Archie Craig made the point that with all the negative press Nestle receives, why should planners believe Nestle will do what they say and be a good neighbor.

  8. Jenny Kirk 8

    ” What kind of idiot country screws up its own water supply? ”

    Us. Its unbelieveable that our water supplies have reached dangerous drinking levels, and so little is being done to remedy it.

    Good story Rob – wish something like this would hit the daily media EVERY day until it penetrates the mindlessness of those in authority.

    • save NZ 8.1

      This is the sad effect of globalism. If we had a real MSM in NZ, that had owners that lived here and cared about NZ then they would have more in a stake of not polluting their own nest.

      Sadly neoliberalism seems to have robbed a lot of people of not only morality but also sanity. I guess they feel money is more important than both.

      It also highlights the growing inequality gap. Billionaires through trusts are starting to own more and more and then use that power to grow their base more and more.

      An example billionaire investor Carl Icahn announced that he had sold his shares in Apple and made a $2 billion profit.”We obviously made a great deal of money,” Icahn said.

      So just by having that amount of investment power in a company, billionaires can lower or increase a companies price just by their own buying. Meanwhile those ‘mums and dads’ investors in shares like Apple, have their retirement next egg able to be increased or lowered just on the whims of the 0.1%. A local example is Dick Smith, somehow over a year someone made 400 million in profit, but the company is left bankrupt, employees made redundant and consumers without guarantees.

      It’s like a select few are blood sucking the life out of the rest of the world. And it is getting worse. Now we have people tired of trading pieces of paper and deciding to use their wealth not just to lobby government but to become them and the influence that brings.

      • Heather Grimwood 8.1.1

        Surely DRINKABLE water should be the aim. One of the joys ( and attractions to overseas’ tourists not so many years ago was the fact that water could be scooped safely in hands from at least backcountry streams, and not so many decades ago from streams on the coast where I lived. Admitttedly as children, we always checked local knowledge about possible dead animals upstream!!! , but that was before the days of freedom campers who haven’t skills/equipment to ensure they’re not polluting, topdressing with its runoff problem or poison baits for pest eradication( e.g. many farms had own ‘rabbitter’ then living on site with house provided. Sure, they used mainly the inhumane gin-traps, but shooting is productive at right time of day. We as kids used ferrets and dogs…eminently successful).

    • leftie 8.2

      +100 Jenny & SaveNZ.

  9. John Shears 9

    Great post, keep at it.
    The sooner the Nats go the sooner Ecan can become an elected body rather than appointed. Then there will be a chance that the Canterbury water pollution can be sorted.
    Remember that only a short distance from Ashburton where the right to extract water and possibly bottle and export it is proposed,
    there is Lake Ellesmere already polluted to the extent that the tuna
    (eel) fishery is virtually extinct, a fishery that goes back several hundred years.

    • Heather Grimwood 9.1

      to John Shears at 9: Yes, Ellesmere’s condition a very obvious and uncontroversial proof of the situation…tragic.

    • Heather Grimwood 9.2

      to John Shears at 9: Yes, Ellesmere’s condition a very obvious and uncontroversial proof of the situation…tragic.

  10. joe90 10

    Perhaps a cabinet club member could have their concerns passed on to the minister responsible.
    /

    In a country first, a ban is about to be placed on winter-fishing in parts of Canterbury due to declining river quality.

    Fish & Game said they put the ban in place in order to preserve the fisheries in the region.

    […]

    North Canterbury Fish & Game Council chair Trevor Isitt said the region’s waterways had suffered years of environmental degradation due to intensive agriculture, and a lack of water monitoring.

    “All of our lowland streams now have a classification from mildly to heavily polluted, which is affecting the aquatic environment that our fish live in, and [it] is affecting the spawning that needs to go on for the recruitment of fish in the future.

    “There’s been a huge decrease in fish numbers over the past few years; last season, the sea-run nearly collapsed.”

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/302464/winter-fishing-banned-due-to-river-quality

    Morning Report –

    [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20160428-0748-fish_and_game_ban_trout_fishing_in_canterbury-048.mp3" /]

  11. red-blooded 11

    This may not be a popular comment, but the deterioration of our waterways is largely a result of over-farming. If you don’t want the effects, back away from the cause. People who eat meat and use dairy products cause the demand that puts so much pressure on our soils and our waterways. Yes, i know that less intensive agricultural practices and “mitigation” can decrease the damage, but the fact is that farming animals is a very inefficient use of land and water, and stepping away from these practices is something that we can all do to decrease the environmental degradation (and the suffering and killing) that arise from farming animals.

  12. dv 12

    This sorta feels like the head in the sand over Ak.

  13. Standard1 13

    The big con from National is to imply that we can somehow have:

    * intensive dairying on unsuitable (porous) soils,
    * a massive dairy herd of 5 million animals
    * irrigation schemes subsidised by the taxpayer to boost dirty dairying,

    and still keep rivers and streams flowing with nice clean water.

    Water is a public asset. but National is running a covert water privatisation scheme for the benefit of its rural friends.

    There are limits to growth, but National won’t recognise that fact. It is the most environmentally destructive administration in NZ history.

    [r0b: Welcome – but please choose a different user name for future comments]

  14. Pat 14

    no worries….youre probably right

  15. Incognito 15

    Good post.

    Because water is a moveable, wandering thing, and must remain common by the law of nature … I can only have a temporary property therein.

    This sentence stood out for me in an excellent recent article by Anne Salmond Water is too valuable to squander.

  16. Lara 16

    So the commodity boom in dairy prices encouraged more intensive dairy farming in NZ as farmers maximised their profits.

    They turned NZ into a giant toilet. Cows literally shitting in our waterways.

    They’re the major cause of deteriorating fresh water quality in these last few years.

    And what of Landcorp? Buying up more land and increasing intensive dairy farming on it. Shitting in our water. Bloody government owned Landcorp.

    WTF does the government think its doing owning land and farming it? Government has no business in business. It’s there to govern. Not make profits.

    And now dairy prices are behaving as all commodity prices do. Surprise surprise, bust follows boom. Prices have fallen. I hear many NZ farmers are in dire financial straits.

    And when they face bankruptcy, when they face mortgagee sales, who they gonna sell to?

    Foreigners because they have deeper pockets.

    The bastards have f***ed our waterways, now they’ll sell our land to foreigners.

    And this limp wristed pathetic excuse for a government will let them. And say there’s nothing they can do to stop it, because TPPA.

    THIS is what you voted for NZ.

    I’m disgusted.

  17. Draco T Bastard 17

    What kind of idiot country screws up its own water supply?

    They’re called capitalists and they’ve destroyed environments for their own enrichment throughout history:

    Diamond identifies five factors that contribute to collapse: climate change, hostile neighbors, collapse of essential trading partners, environmental problems, and failure to adapt to environmental issues.

    He also lists 12 environmental problems facing humankind today. The first eight have historically contributed to the collapse of past societies:

    1. Deforestation and habitat destruction
    2. Soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses)
    3. Water management problems
    4. Overhunting
    5. Overfishing
    6. Effects of introduced species on native species
    7. Overpopulation
    8. Increased per-capita impact of people

    Further, he says four new factors may contribute to the weakening and collapse of present and future societies:

    9. Anthropogenic climate change
    10. Buildup of toxins in the environment
    11. Energy shortages
    12. Full human use of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity

  18. Henry Filth 18

    “What kind of idiot country screws up its own water supply?”

    Pretty well most of them. It seems to be a completely apolitical passion, independent of economic system.

  19. S-hell 19

    Draco, liked ur comment esp the list, but ‘capitalists’ I would say are really the ‘invaders’ or colonisers that badly affected our past, as that period of recent history set up a precedent of ‘war’ and everything was stolen, looted, cut down and drilled out of the ground, by our very rich larger countries, Spain, Britain, Holland, China etc, and all the profits and money went to the ruling families, royal or not. I think capitalism sprung out of this great abundance of stolen goods and land.

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