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Strong water quality rules needed

Taieri River faecal pollution shows need for strong water quality rules

We shouldn’t have to put up signs saying our rivers are unsafe for swimming, the Green Party said today.

Otago Regional Council (ORC) water quality sampling has found high levels of E. coli (an indicator of faecal contamination) at more than five times safe level for human health.

“More intensive farming and weak rules increases the risk of more faecal contamination of our rivers, making them unsafe for swimming as is happening in Otago’s Upper Taieri River,” said Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“Having notices declaring that the river beside our best known cycle trail, the Central Otago Rail Trail, is too polluted to swim in damages our clean green image and our tourism reputation.”

“An ORC report from 2012 identified a lack of stock exclusion, dead stock in waterways and irrigation runoff as causes of water quality issues in the Upper Taieri river.”

The Government is currently seeking public feedback on its proposed bottom lines for water quality and its changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

“The Taieri River is another example of why the Government needs to strengthen its proposed national bottom line so that our rivers are clean and safe for swimming, not just wading and boating as the Government proposes,” said Ms Sage.

“It should be compulsory that regional councils manage land use so that we can swim in our rivers; not something that’s optional as the Government wants.”

“The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has made it very clear that our rivers and lakes are paying the price for agricultural intensification. We need strong rules to protect our rivers and improve water quality so they are safe for swimming ”

ends

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