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World Rivers Day - good reason to celebrate

World Rivers Day - good reason to celebrate

26 September 2014

New Zealanders have good reason to celebrate World Rivers Day on Sunday, says Taranaki Regional Council Chairman David MacLeod.

“Data at both regional and national level shows our waterways are in a much more encouraging state than many people have been led to believe,” says Mr MacLeod. “There’s been a lot of misinformation and politicking about water quality but literally and figuratively, the truth is far less cloudy and muddy than some have been saying.”

To mark World Rivers Day, latest national water quality data will be published on the Land and Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website, www.lawa.org.nz. LAWA is a partnership involving all regional councils, the Cawthron Institute and the Ministry for the Environment.

LAWA’s national data shows:

• Significant improvements in levels of phosphorus. 45% of sites with 10 years of data show total phosphorus has reduced, and there’s been a reduction in dissolved reactive phosphorus at 41% of sites.

• While the majority of sites show no evidence of a trend, 17% of sites showed decreases in the levels of total nitrogen with increases at 22% of sites.

Meanwhile the Taranaki Regional Council’s latest waterways report card (www.trc.govt.nz/healthy-report-for-region-s-rivers/), shows that water quality measures in this region are either stable or improving, and an ever-increasing number are improving.

Trends reported this year on the ecological health and physical and chemical state of rivers and streams, are the best yet in 18 years of monitoring.

Mr MacLeod says the science around water quality is complex and not well served by simplistic slogans or political manoeuvring.

He describes as regrettable and mischievous a pre-election Green Party claim that 100% of monitored swimming spots in Taranaki were unsafe for swimming last summer, when the Council’s own monitoring produced results that were very good by national and international comparisons.

He says the Green Party deliberately misrepresented the situation by relying on the Ministry for the Environment’s ‘suitability for recreational grade’ indicator of potential risk. The Ministry itself is absolutely clear that the indicator does not provide real-time information about conditions on a particular day and therefore does not replace the site-specific information available on council websites.

“We can celebrate World Rivers Day because of the real progress that has been made and continues to be made,” says Mr MacLeod. “But of course there are still improvements to be made, and the Taranaki Regional Council intends to ensure that the region builds on what’s been achieved and makes more progress.”

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