Call for change af­ter deaths

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.

LUKE KIRKEBY

The Oraka Stream bridge at the north­ern end of Pu­taruru.

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