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Council lacks courage to save Tukituki

5 August 2008

Council lacks courage to save Tukituki

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council appears to be all talk when it comes to making the Tukituki River anything other than an insipid agricultural drain, says Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman.

"Approving new water consents when council research shows the Tukituki is already over-allocated in summer makes a mockery of council statements that it wants to improve the river," he says.

The Dominion Post reported (page A8, August 1) that an Environment Court appeal was likely after the council issued new irrigation allocations - for the Tukituki and its Waipawa tributary - to a multimillion dollar dairy conversion venture.

"Citizens are losing to corporates over the battle to save our streams," Dr Norman says. "Industrial dairy directors appear to have the ear of some regional councils and first say over how our natural resources are treated.

"It is hypocritical of the council to say on its website that 'Water is the lifeblood of Hawke's Bay' and to list the lower Tukituki as one of the rivers providing 'great recreational choices' with 'facilities for barbecuing, tracks for cycling and horse riding and places for fishing and swimming', when it doesn't passionately protect this 'lifeblood'.

"Council admits itself that some effects of this extra water take from the river are unknown and council staff have said these extra consents would have a big impact on the river's flow and on existing consents."

On its website, the council says, as part of a section of questions and answers about the Tukituki headed "greatest threats", that increasing water extraction impacts on the river's water quality.

Says Dr Norman, "Last summer in a memo the Hawke's Bay District Health Board warned doctors to look out for symptoms of contact with algae in the Tukituki River. Symptoms included rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset.

"It seems the regional council can't even look ahead to next summer, let alone protect our rivers long-term for the economic benefits we all enjoy through a clean and green image."


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