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Water quality needs the truth

1st November 2018

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release

Water quality needs the truth

Dairy NZ and NZME have launched a movement called 'The Vision is Clear', demonstrating that there is a clear vision for change and reflecting the benefit of this vision to all New Zealanders – healthier waterways for all to enjoy".

And while the vision looks good from the outside it is very murky on the inside.

The vision clearly misses and sidesteps around some of the major issues.

New Zealanders already know that they value our environment and our rivers, lakes and streams, while it seems that Dairy NZ and NZME do not.

“Where have all our frogs and insects gone? What has caused their demise?

Why are Councils still applying thousands of litres of chemicals which have killed off these critters?” says Graham Carter President of the NZ federation of Freshwater Anglers.

Fertiliser Companies are still applying huge quantities of super phosphates, urea and other chemicals like glyphosates which harm our aquifers and rivers. The nitrogen levels in the Waikato River have doubled since 1980.

Sure we need to do what Dairy NZ and NZME are proposing but it is not close to being enough.

When you look at the devastation that water extraction has caused to some of our international recognized tourist attractions like the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers you have to wonder where these people are coming from?

Consider the damage that palm kernel is doing by introducing high levels of copper into rivers which affects wild fowl and native fish.

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Look at the damage our beaches and rivers suffer after a storm which loosens the forestry slash left lying around on steeply harvested forestry areas.

Then we have raw sewerage released into rivers under the watchful eye of Councils as their systems can’t cope with heavy rainfall.

This complete ‘vision’ will again be a complete waste of time unless Councils and the larger rural related businesses take responsibility.

“To solve New Zealand's water quality issues, we have to take a collective approach."

That means everyone Councils included as they are standalone the worst offenders. They have the ability to stop or reduce pollution but turn their backs on the culprits and sidestep the issues.

Aquaculture NZ needs to stop dumping plastics into the seas and clean up the mess under the salmon and mussel farms.

Dairy factories that are discharging into rivers and the reduction of nutrients from wastewater plants needs to be stopped. These are the issues that councils, dairy and other corporates are sidestepping.

Tim Mackle DairyNZ chief executive said “If there is one issue that's important to all New Zealanders, its water quality.” And he’s dead right. But kiwis also want the truth and not some propaganda exercise that clearly biased and one-sided.

"Such an initiative needs teeth. No section of the agricultural or local government sector has responded well to voluntary conformity in recent years. There needs to be a parallel increase in enforcement staff and penalties before change will occur" adds Mr Carter. “Kiwis love the water. We swim, fish, play and do awesome bombs in it – up until intensive dairying saw the end to it.”

“Planting trees, restoring wetlands, cleaning up beaches is a good thing to do and we are completely for and support the concept. From buying blood phosphate to poisoning our waterways and being responsible for the majority of our climate change - it's a hard life being a corporate farmer!”

There seems to be a concerted effort in the media at the moment which says, 'if you can't change the results, change the story'. And who is singing a 'happy song'? Fed Farmers, Dairy NZ, NZ Beef & Lamb, Fonterra and Regional Councils. And who is responsible for 80% of our polluted waterways? Same, same. Just as the message is the same as Fed Farmers has been singing for decades - we'll make the profits, but you deal with the pollution problems. What a lot of crock this "were all in this together' nonsense is!

The guess is that they have finally woken up to what a carbon tax (or price) might just mean to them, hence the twin messages; 'We are too big to fail', (and if you believe that) 'You guys are going to have to pay to clean up our messes"

This is propaganda, pure and simple. No different to a Fonterra ad or a Regional Council newsletter. The great pity is that:

• The science that should be informing the truth around these issues is no longer independent, reliable or available.

• There are no truly independent scientific commentators to hold these corporate gangsters to account (they have been clobbered).

• The majority of people simply take these things as 'fact'.

• They also seem to have the ear of important decision makers like David Parker (who I thought was smarter than that).

• There still is no Plan B (and there needs to be).

New Zealand has ratified all of the major human rights instruments that relate to the right to water, including IESCR, CEDAW, CRC and CRPD. The Government must take the steps necessary to ensure that everyone can enjoy safe, sufficient, acceptable, accessible and affordable water, without discrimination.

This duty can be divided into the obligations to respect, protect and fulfil. There is also a closely related responsibility which is the duty of non-retrogression, or not going backwards. For example, the duty to respect requires the Government to ensure its own activities and those of its agencies and representatives do not interfere with a person’s access to water.

The duty to protect requires the Government to take all necessarily steps to prevent third parties from interfering with the right to water. The duty to fulfil requires that the Government take active steps to ensure that everyone can enjoy the right to water as soon as possible. This has been described as “taking steps that accord sufficient recognition of the right within the national political and legal systems”.

The Ministry of Health’s annual review of drinking-water quality in New Zealand for 2009–2010 found that 15 per cent of New Zealanders were drinking water that is either unsafe (six per cent) or comes from an unregistered supply, e.g. a bore or tank water (nine per cent). Three per cent of people received a water supply that did not comply with bacteriological standards because the frequency of sampling during the year was insufficient to demonstrate compliance.


Graham Carter President

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