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Other rivers have even worse water quality

Brendon Burns
Water Quality Spokesperson

26 November 2009 Media Statement
Other rivers have even worse water quality than polluted Manawatu

Other New Zealand rivers have been assessed as having worse water quality than the Manawatu River, today described as one of the most polluted in the Western world, says Labour’s water quality spokesman Brendon Burns.

Brendon Burns said the Manawatu was rated only as the fifth lowest in a water quality league table released recently by the Ministry for the Environment.

The Waitara River (Taranaki) was rated at one site as having the worst quality of 35 major rivers, followed by Whanganui, Waipa (Waikato/King Country) and Rangitikei (Manawatu), Brendon Burns said. Following Manawatu in fifth position came the Waihou (Waikato) and Waimakariri in Canterbury.

Brendon Burns says this shows water quality is poor across New Zealand. “These rankings were taken long before the passage of the Government’s emissions trading legislation which subsidises polluters for decades and will do little to curb the sort of behaviour that already makes our ‘clean, green’ image marginal.

“How many more wake-up calls do we need before we get serious about dealing with the appalling state of some of our rivers and streams?”

Brendon Burns said the Horizons Regional Council commissioned the Cawthron Institute to assess the health of the Manawatu River as the council begins efforts to reduce farm-applied nitrogen feeding into waterways.

The Cawthron report has found that the Manawatu has 'incredibly high rates of ecosystem metabolism' that indicate 'very poor ecoystem health.' The Manawatu tops 300 rivers and streams across Europe, North America and Australia for being the most polluted on this measure.

Brendon Burns says New Zealanders are losing their birthright of being able to safely swim in their rivers and streams, let alone drink the water.

"Dairying and its high use of nitrate and potassium fertilisers is by no means the only contributor to the state of river health, but it is the elephant in the room.

“As evidenced by the farcical ETS legislation, the National-led Government will not confront these issues which are undermining our international image, our tourism, our quality of life and ultimately our farming base."


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