Water is Political – Letter to Editor

Dr Stephen Swabey is quite right in pointing out the toxic algae that poisons our dogs and children is naturally occurring (Reader makes wrong sort of waves on waterways 22/1/16). I never said otherwise. As Derek Williams so succinctly pointed out (Irrefutable facts 23/1/16) it is unfortunate that he doesn’t offer any explanation as to why the incidence of toxic algae seems to be on the increase. It was never the case when I was a young man that warning signs had to be posted by our rivers.

If I my be so bold as to offer an explanation by way of analogy. Say the Napier City Council started dumping rubbish in Emerson Street rather than at the landfill. How long would it be before we had a naturally occurring plague of rats and mice? If rats and mice, or toxic algae for that matter, are given optimum conditions to grow in then guess what. There is a population explosion.

Neither Dr Swanby nor Ms Madarasz-Smith offered up any explanation as to why the likes of the Tukituki River and Lake Tutira have such optimal conditions for the growth of toxic algae. I’m no expert on Lake Tutira but Plan Change 6 sets out a test for whether or not the Tukituki River is polluted. This is the 0.8 DIN limit. Personally I believe the limit is set too high. But it is what it is. The fact is apart from some upper reaches of the Tukituki River the whole of the catchment exceeds the 0.8 DIN limit and is therefore polluted by defination. I wonder what readers think caused the Tukituki River to exceed the 0.8 DIN limit and become polluted? Natural occurrences or mismanagement?

I argued that Ms Madarasz-Smith’s statement that HBRC works hard to “ensure the sustainable management of the region’s natural resources” was political. Dr Swabey disagrees with this. However in his letter he reminds us that managing the regions natural resource are topics of debate and decisions by Hawke’s Bay regional councillors. This seems contradictory to me.

HBRC spent substantial sums of rate payers money arguing against the 0.8 DIN limit in Plan Change 6, and lost that battle at the Board of Inquiry. They also spent substantial sums of rate payers money arguing in Plan Change 5 that some of out aquifers can be polluted as long as not all of our aquifers are polluted. They lost this battle in the Environment Court. In both instances HBRC took an illogical position and attempted to railroad them through the planning process. Hardly the actions of an organisation working hard to ensure the sustainable management of the region’s natural resources.

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