Call for change after deaths
A Waikato Regional councillor has called for service changes after being left disappointed by staff handling of numerous environmental situations.
Councillor Kathy White has taken to social media over the last few days to express concern over the council’s handling of a situation at Putaruru’s Oraka Stream in late December 2016 which saw ‘‘thousands’’ of freshwater crayfish (koura) die.
While reports were made to the Waikato Regional Council at the time and staff collected water samples soon after, the final test results are not expected for some weeks.
White said the dead koura had not been tested and continued delays were not good enough.
‘‘Staff responded quickly to gather evidence, but I was disappointed to find out through social media that the koura had not been tested. The answers are inside the koura and the longer you take to test them, the greater the likelihood the samples will have deteriorated and you won’t get a positive result,’’ she said.
‘‘I think the council should always test dead koura in a case like this, where large numbers have died, and they need to test for a wide variety of possible contaminants.’’
‘‘We need to know why animals have died in order to learn from these incidents,’’ she said.
White said it was the second major incident in recent times where she has been left disappointed in staff.
‘‘When large numbers of dead trout came down the Tauranga-taupo River in January 2015, I was extremely disappointed that my council sent no one to investigate,’’ she said.
‘‘There had been a 1080 drop there only ten days earlier. There was a chance the two things were connected.’’
‘‘I’d like to see my council considering a change in level of service. The public expects us to fully investigate contamination cases. If we don’t do it, we risk the public having less confidence in us,’’ she said.
Waikato Regional Council staff visited Oraka Stream on Friday and although they are confident it is now supporting a healthy ecosystem they confirmed the cause of death of the koura was yet to be determined.
Investigation and incident response manager Patrick Lynch said staff were determined to find the cause.
‘‘We’ll now be conducting tests on the bodies,’’ he said.
The Oraka Stream bridge at the northern end of Putaruru.