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Hawkes Bay DHB warns GPs of death risk

Hawkes Bay DHB warns GPs of death risk from toxic river

Green Media release - 1st February 2008

  • Public Health Unit Alert
  • Water quality in the Hawke's Bay's Tukituki River is so poor that local GPs are being warned to watch for potentially dangerous illnesses caused by contact with the water, the Green Party has revealed.

    The Party is calling for immediate action following the alert from the Public Health Unit of the Hawkes Bay DHB alert (attached), which also warns that serious illness or death can result from exposure to high levels of toxins from the algal mats in the Tukituki River.

    "The lakes and rivers in the Hawkes Bay region are in a state of crisis due to pollution from intensive agriculture and urban sources. This is the cutting edge of the collapse in water quality identified in the State of the Environment report released by the Government yesterday," says Dr. Russel Norman, Green Party Co-leader.

    "The Greens are calling for action by the Hawkes Bay Regional Council to improve the water quality of the region and calling for central government to step in by issuing National Environmental Standards for water quality under the Resource Management Act.

    "The DHB memo warns General Practitioners to be on the lookout for symptoms of contact with blue green algal mats in the Tukituki River. Symptoms include rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset. The memo warns that high levels exposure to blue green algal toxins can result in serious illness or death.

    "Hawkes Bay now has a systemic water quality crisis. The water quality in two thirds (9 out of 14) of the lakes and rivers monitored by Hawkes Bay Regional Council is rated as poor or very poor. Poor or very poor rivers and lakes may contain human or animal faeces or toxic blue green algae and receive run-off of treated or untreated waste water, run-off from intensive agriculture or urban stormwater.

    "In the last six weeks, seven swimming warnings have been issued by the DHB - Tukituki River (Jan 30, Dec 19), Lake Tutira (Jan 9, Dec 27, Dec 19), and Waipatiki Lagoon (Jan 16, Dec 27). These warnings were due to human or animal faeces (E.coli) or toxic blue green algae.

    "Even the beaches are not immune from the pollution. The Hawkes Bay Regional Council warns people to avoid the beaches for three days following heavy rain to avoid eye, ear and skin infections and stomach illness due to pollution washed out from the rivers.

    "I congratulate the Regional Council for carrying out the monitoring and the DHB for issuing the warnings but we need to actually clean up the rivers and lakes.

    "Toxic rivers, and beaches that have to be avoided for three days following heavy rain for fear of ill health, are totally unacceptable in 21st century New Zealand. It's time for the government and the regional council to act."

    Background: Hawkes Bay Regional Council Water Quality Ratings for rivers and lakes

    Clive River at SH2 - Poor
    Esk River at Eskdale park - Poor
    Kairakau KLagoon - Poor
    Lake Tutira at campground - Very poor
    Maraetotora Lagoon - Poor
    Ngaruroro River at Chesterhope - Good
    Pandora Pond - Good
    Puhokio Stream at Waimarama - Very poor
    Tukituki River at Blackbridge- Fair
    Tukituki River at Waipukurau - Poor
    Tutaekuri River at Pakowhai Rd - Fair
    Waipatiki Lagoon - Very poor
    Waipuka Stream at Ocean Beach - Fair
    Wairoa River at Ski club - Poor

    Source - x


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