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Canterbury water testing alarming

Fish & Game are concerned that Environment Canterbury’s latest groundwater survey shows ninety-five per cent of Canterbury’s monitored wells have nitrate levels worse or no better than those ten years ago.

"This latest data shows a continuation of the trend that intensive agriculture - particularly dairy - has been increasingly damaging Canterbury waterways," Fish & Game’s Chief Executive Martin Taylor says.

"Of the 306 wells sampled only 11 had lower nitrate levels than a decade ago.

"Nitrates contamination in rivers kills trout. That’s why Fish & Game carried out sampling in Canterbury last year to see whether pollution from intensive agriculture is getting into drinking water.

Fish & Game worked with Dr Mike Joy who carried out the nitrate nitrogen testing of 114 drinking water samples from across the Canterbury plains, to find that more than half of them were above the level considered safe in the world’s largest ever study on the impacts of nitrates in drinking water.

"This Danish study confirmed that nitrate levels above 3.87 mg/1000ml substantially increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

"This situation will get worse in future as nitrate levels are increasing and predicted to do so for decades.

"The primary source of nitrates contamination in Canterbury water comes from intensive agriculture who use large amounts of fertiliser and from cow urine.

"The true impact of intensive agriculture in Canterbury is not only about destroying habitat for trout, eels and whitebait, but it is also now impacting on many peoples’ health."


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