Declines in River and Water Quality Shameful

Recent news that the latest environmental assessment by Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa (LAWA) has revealed a continuing decline in the standard of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers and streams has been labelled as a “big wakeup call” on New Zealand.
Chairman of the  Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand Andi Cockroft said  the LAWA report showed governments and local bodies had failed miserably despite election time promises to reverse the decline in waterways.
“It makes the clean and green and 100% pure marketing brands to be a monstrous lie,” he said.
Andi Cockroft said the image government portrayed to sell tourism and primary produce abroad was a sham.
Often New Zealand’s Southern Alps, with pristine turquoise water flows from glaciers against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains gave a false impression of the reality. Breathtaking vistas as in Hollywood epics like Lord of the Rings and advertising one of the world’s most recognised tourism campaigns, “100% Pure New Zealand” were lies in themselves.
“It’s a con, a big fat fib,” said Andi Cockroft.
Behind New Zealand’s clean and green image is what has been termed before as “a dirty truth” New Zealand’s freshwater rivers are among the most polluted in the developed world. 
He said it was ironic that the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) is a collaboration between regional councils, government, and science organisations. Science had over years with testing shown the reality. However, government and  regional councils chose to irresponsibly ignore the findings of scientists.
The current Labour government and its coalition partner the Green Party had at the last two elections promised to reverse the decline but had done nothing meaningful.
“It’s time for election time rhetoric promises to be honoured,” he said.
He called on all political parties and especially the main contenders in next year’s election to step up and champion the health of waterways and if elected,  take strong, tangible action.
“While Labour and the Greens are guilty of broken promises over two elections and inertia in between elections, the John Key led National government 2008-17 had encouraged the rampant growth of corporate dairying in low rainfall areas such as the eastern South Island and Mackenzie Basin.
“Nitrate contamination lethal to aquatic life and a major factor in cancer rates according to international research has been shown by studies by the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers to be chronically high,” he said.
Very recently, LAWA revealed monitoring results for 1727 rivers and lakes which showed more than 80 percent of lowland lakes were of a substandard quality. Water quality in rivers and streams is likely to be worse in areas which have been highly modified, whether because of urban environments or pasture, said LAWA scientists.

© Billboards on the slime infested Selwyn River (Canterbury) reminding Labour of broken election promises.

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10 Responses to Declines in River and Water Quality Shameful

  1. J B Smith says:

    Well spoken Andi Cockroft. Water is polluted in urban, farming, and lets not forget forestry areas. About forestry, it is a major factor – often forgotten – in degraded freshwater ecosystems. Silt runoff and deposits in streams and rivers and coastal areas occurs from bad clear felling practices. Also pine forests suck excessive amounts of water from the ecosystem. Native vegetation retains moisture and streams run full.

  2. Brerpossum says:

    Huh! 100% clean and green. Yeah right!

  3. David says:

    Over 20 years ago when I Iived beside the Selwyn River I used to walk around the area. On one of my walks I saw a notice in a small stream warning that there was “human effluent” in the water. And still the various authorities from national to local do nothing.

  4. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Just like our PM, we flash 100% Pure for the world to fawn at, while the reality isi n fact, 100% rotten. I have had a close encounter with our rivers since 1967,fishingexstensively in every nook & cranny of the country.i have watched first hand the decline in water quality & health,resulting in some cases the disappearance of aquatic life.
    But, the death coup de grace is just around the corner, as this racist PM has ordered the DOC “Options Working GroupP” to prepare the paperwork to hand over the entire conservationestate to tribal control, handing virtual ownership of water to Iwi.The Tribal wealth has recently been ranked at $70 billion.Ownership of water could expand on that.
    Tribal corporations, much of them in dairy & farming will be able to exploit & pollute with a free hand using the new windfall of free water as a catylist.there is nothing to stop this death nell of water.Any alarm by the scientific community will be countered with the claimed “superior” maoedi knowledge of matauranga moedi .look for the already noted here areas, [Cantb, McKenzie etc.], saturated in nitrates to increase to the death of the soil& water.

  5. Justice Will B. Dunn. says:

    Sad on a couple of fronts – govts have been aware of this for decades now and not much has happened apart from it getting worse and secondly the Orc invasion of Ukraine might have helped solve it; fert is so expensive farmers might have to change practices finally. Cruelly ironic that water quality (eutrophication, littoral sea quality decline and its turbidity) is probably the single biggest environmental issue NZ currently faces and yet everyone wants to focus on an issue that no matter what we do, our efforts will have no effect on… wait a minute!

  6. Jack Tuhawaiki says:

    The declining state of rivers, lakes and wetlands was the most important environmental issue for 80% of New Zealanders in a 2020 survey. It was also an election issue in 2017, so there was a clear mandate for significant change. But the Ardern government has ignored it in terms of doing anything meaningful.
    It is ironic the New Zealand’s government has been listening to health experts (that word ‘expert’ is questionable)in its pandemic response, but when it comes to dealing with pollution of the country’s waterways, scientific advice and public opinion seems much less important.

    • Jake Miller says:

      Jack good thoughts but realise, National weren’t any better when in power led by John Key. They facilitated the vast expansion of dairying on Canterbury and South Canterbury farms. Key’s government (Key and Nick Smith) sacked the Environment Canterbury elected council, a wilful act, that insulted democracy.

  7. Lew says:

    Mustn’t forget the numerous animals poisoned by 1080 poison and the thousands of wild animals culled that are rotting in waterways.

  8. Dr. Charlie Baycroft says:

    It should be obvious that all the government employees we pay for to “look after the environment” are not doing it.

    The reason for this failure is money.

    The Economy is based on converting natural resources into products and selling them to consumers.

    Economic growth depends on converting more and more natural resources to products and motivating consumers to buy them even if they do not need and cannot afford them.

    Accessing the natural resources requires habitat reallocation and destruction of the balance of life in the ecosystems. The removal of the natural resources from the ecosystems and manufacturing of the products also results in pollution and the emission of increased quantities of greenhouse gasses.

    Well over 2/3 of the global energy used in sourcing resources and manufacturing and transporting raw materials and products (including electricity) is generated from the burning of fossil fuels.

    Real and effective initiatives and actions to reduce this destruction of ecosystems would result in less natural resources being exploited and converted into products that people are motivated to purchase and then dispose of to buy new ones.

    This would reduce economic growth, the profits of global corporations and the revenue that people in governments use to increase their importance, authority and power over the “common” people who actually pay for everything with their productive labour.

    The way of avoiding this reduction of corporate profits and government revenue is to establish more bureaucracies and employ more government employees to be “seen to” be concerned and caring for “the environment” while doing very little to protect it from excessive exploitation and accelerating degradation.

    The elite political and financial people who control the main political parties whose political celebrities we are allowed to vote for only care about the money they get from the exploitation of our natural resources and their own wealth, authority and power over the ordinary people.

    If we want to change anything we must rebel and stop voting for the red, blue and green political celebrities who serve the people that chose and promoted them and not those who foolishly voted for them.

    Elections are our opportunity to EMPLOY the people who should work for US in Our Government and we have been vey poor EMPLOYERS.

    Red, green and Blue
    You don’t know what to do
    We’ve had enough of you
    We will hire sometime new.

    Will the new employees be better?
    They certainly could not be worse.

  9. G.H. says:

    But if you listen to industry leaders and politicians, our waterways are way cleaner than those in other countries, relatively speaking, so no need to worry.
    For example, pollution is far worse in Outer Mongolia.
    Only trouble is, I live in NZ, not Outer Mongolia.

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