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Disappearing rivers cause for alarm

Disappearing rivers cause for alarm

Green Media Release

The drying out of part of the Waipawa River in the Hawke's Bay is a cause for alarm about the state of our rivers and lakes says the Green Party. And the Government needs to act to introduce water quality standards.

"Excess abstraction of water for intensive agriculture combined with drought conditions is resulting in the drying out of our rivers, and the Government must step in with a national environmental standard as regional councils are failing to protect minimum flows," says Dr. Russel Norman Green Party Co-Leader.

"The Greens recently drew attention to the poor state of rivers and lakes in the Hawke's Bay region, but this new report that part of the Waipawa River has actually dried out adds to the urgency of the situation."

The Waipawa River is a major tributary of the Tukituki, a river that the Hawkes Bay DHB recently issued a medical warning about due to the presence of dangerous algal blooms. The Waipawa has a large forested mountain catchment but is affected by heavy irrigation takes once outside the Ruahine Forest Park boundaries.

"It is no wonder that the Tukituki has algal blooms when its tributaries are being drained by irrigation. This results in lower flow and higher water temperatures which breeds algal blooms when combined with farm run-off and sewerage inflows.

"The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has belatedly moved to stop irrigation takes from the Waipawa, but it's a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted.

"We need national environmental standards on water quality to protect our rivers and lakes from over-allocation for irrigation, especially when drought conditions reduce the inflow. It's far too late to stop irrigation takes once the river has actually dried up in its upper reaches and has very low flows elsewhere.

"The Waipawa River is an important ecosystem, it is a source of town drinking water, it is famous for its trout fishing and once upon a time it was great for swimming. It should not be allowed to simply be drained for commercial gain. It is for all of us."


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