Photo credit Rod Morris Photography
 

New Zealand, a land marketed as clean and green. A land of green lush fields for cows to graze on and beautiful drinkable fresh river water at every turn. In reality, this marketing campaign couldn’t be more of a lie.

A recent report led by two of New Zealand’s leading freshwater ecologists titled ‘The Plight of New Zealand’s Freshwater Diversity’ lists the following as contributors to New Zealand’s widespread pollution of freshwater waterways:

  • Rapid intensification of lowland agriculture –  dairy farming
  • increased urbanisation and development
  • rising nitrate and phosphate nutrient run off levels causing algal blooms
  • extraction of water
  • Human and industrial waste discharged to waterways

Massey University’s Dr Mike Joy and Professor Russell Death helped conclude that 74% of our native freshwater fish, mussel and crayfish species are now listed as threatened with extinction, as well as the number of freshwater invertebrate species now at risk increasing from 17 in 2005, up to 82 in 2013.

On top of this, 96% of all lowland catchments and 100% of all urban catchments failed the current standard of pathogens for safe swimming, while 80% of sites exceeded current nutrient guideline levels.

The science here is very clear; we are allowing the systematic destruction of our waterways which so many people rely on for livelihoods, recreation, not to mention basic survival.

Penelope Cruz features in a very powerful short video called ‘Nature is Speaking’as the voice of water and says, “I am water. To humans, I am simply just there. I am something they just take for granted, but there’s only so much of me, and more and more of them every single day.”

The warning is clear. Freshwater sources are depleting very quickly around the world thanks to our actions.

Will we listen?

The recommendations from the report include:

  • Change legislation to adequately protect native and endemic fish species and invertebrates, including those harvested commercially and recreationally.
  • Protect habitat critical to the survival of New Zealand’s freshwater species.
  • Include river habitat health to protect ecosystem health in the National Objectives Framework for the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.
  • Establish monitoring and recovery plans for New Zealand’s freshwater invertebrate fauna.
  • Develop Policy and best management practices for freshwater catchments which include wetlands, estuaries and groundwater ecosystems.
  • Establish, improve and maintain appropriately wide riparian zones that connect across entire water catchments.

    algal-blooming

    Green algal bloom in a small freshwater lake in New Zealand (photo credit Rob Suisted Photography)

The National government has made it very clear that the economy always comes before the environment, and this physically manifests itself when we look at the quality of fresh water around the country. If only they had enough common sense to realise that the future of our country lies in sustainable fresh water, and without it, we are as good as dead.

National have made their position clear by ignoring all expert opinion on the subject, and instead have succumbed to pressure from the powerful dairy industry, which is a well known strong voter base for the right. They also desire to gut the Resource Management Act (RMA) rather than strengthen it, which should come as a concern to Kiwis.

No longer can we idly sit by while profit and the economy are considered more important than our nation’s freshwater. When will we draw the line? When all our freshwater sources are polluted and all the life once in them dead?

The only ‘Green’ in ‘Clean, Green NZ’ is all the algae now polluting our waterways and the money lining wealthy pockets – all thanks to greed and inaction by our government.

About The Author

Wake Up NZ is a team of dedicated truth-seekers from all over New Zealand. We are committed to disseminating information that the mainstream media fails to bring to you.

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