A Word from the Mayor: Fresh Water reforms
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a Mayor of a predominantly land and water based primary producing district, and economy, would have views and comment on the Fresh Water reforms discussion document released last Thursday.
This document and its content should be absolutely no surprise on a number of counts, not least as a Government response to the huge pressure of public opinion and impatience with what in their view is Regulatory Authorities lack of progress to return all water to a quality, which in many cases is unattainable.
There is no debate that everyone wants the highest quality water in our lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers that’s sensibly attainable.
Responses to this discussion document, and the ensuing debate, needs to be around sensibly achieving water quality at levels which simply cannot be set the same across every catchment and water body in the country.
I say ‘sensible’ because in Hurunui we have at least two examples of water quality issues unrelated to urban or rural pollution.
High E coli counts in the Hurunui River, making popular swimming spots technically un-swimmable, are predominantly caused by avian E coli, birds.
The Waipara River has natural high phosphate levels coming from limestone hill country catchments causing perephyton growth. The Waipara catchment also suffers huge water loss to its summer flow through water extraction by willow trees, far greater loss than irrigation extraction.
Tough rules and severe restrictions on urban or rural activity will not change those particular water quality and flow issues, but without doubt add significant cost, and loss of production for little benefit.
Significant effort needs to go in to understanding and responding to this document which currently indicates severe restrictions that will be potentially devastating to land based production, and yet not meet the desired water quality objectives, and have the potential for serious unintended consequences.
For example, Grand-parenting the high pollution contribution from both Urban and Rural activities will cause inequity and further division within our communities.
Cool heads and restraint from unhelpful vitriolic commentary is essential if the environmental results are to be achieved and our productive sector and community wellbeing preserved.