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Water is the New 'Hot Potato'

Talk about running for cover.

WRC representatives including Zone Manager Tonia Clarkston came to to Thames Community Board this morning to explain a Paper they have prepared on the coastal stream mouths water tests that they ran last season.

It turns out that they were not exactly definitive - just preliminary, and therefore unable to distinguish between the types of faecal contamination that were detected in at least five sites on the East Coast over the course of two months testing - January/February.

We were subjected to a lecture about the fact that they had no responsibility for declaring a location safe to swim in - that is a DHB responsibility after receiving the WRC test results, but they were of course not conclusive! Our Council is also responsible for water quality, and together with the WRC take steps to improve conditions if necessary 

It is exactly the mess that surrounds the situation at Havelock North - no one is responsible - least of the all Mayor Yule (his interview with Guy Espiner this morning was a classic - "Who me? Responsible - no way, it must be someone else or othewise some other organisation."

As for it being down to ruminants - perish the thought - possums, bird, humans, naughty boys  - anything other than ruminants.

Here is a direct quote from the WRC Report to Council today:

"The trial of faecal source tracking provided some useful information on the potential sources of faecal contamination at the study locations. It identified one of the most common sources of faecal bacteria to be ruminant animals. Additionally, possum and gull sources were identified at most locations most of the time. Human sources were detected at few sites but only on some occasions. Due to the nature of the faecal source tracking technique, direct comparisons could not be made between the different sources to determine the relative contributions from each source. As a result, it cannot yet be used to make reliable statements on the exact causes of coastal water quality degradation" (My underline)

What you can deduce from that is they know perfectly well that the source is ruminant, but but dare not say it for fear of again being called out by the vested interests of Federated Farmers on the Council.

What they explained in the meeting is that they will now undertake another season of testing and this time escalate the testing (at Hill Laboratories) to a higher, more expensive level. Presuming the results take another six to nine months to release, they may just be able to get around to doing something about it during the 2017/18 season. Oh what a nonsense!

It raises the question - if they wanted definitive results, why could the current samples not have been escalated to the higher, more expensive form of testing - that is, if they had really wanted an accurate result?

One inevitably comes to the conclusion that this whole process is another case of the WRC staff succumbing to the pressure brought to bear by the farming interests who dominate on their Council. The WRC staff present kept emphasizing that they were moving in a "positive" direction. Well I beg to differ, and I suspect that all those at the table would agree other than P. French and S. Peters who engaged in some political 'grandstanding' on the subject by 'hair-tugging' towards the ERC staff.

It is exactly the same as at Havelock North where all those responsible, and culpable are running from facing the facts, wearing the inevitable electoral penalty, and possible legal/criminal actions in the case of the staff who are tasked with ensuring water safety - in the one case for swimming, and the other potability.

Inevitably, Government will have to legislate universal treatment, regardless of the cost. Why we have to go through an extremely expensive 'enquiry' is beyond me. Lord held us if it is escalated to a 'Royal Commission.' Any more deaths, and that is what we will end up with I suspect. Universal treatment is long overdue, and I suspect has not been delayed because of cost as claimed, but because of righteous indignance of the 'sacred and pure' water brigade - a large proportion of the Christchurch. population in particular.

Perhaps 'second thoughts' are sinking in rght now.




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Reader Comments (1)

Another example Bill, as is so often the case, of business agenda's compromising democratic process and public health.
By the way, did WRC win an Olympic gold for buck-passing? The Hasting Mayor will probably get a medal for the high-jump.

August 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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