On a quest for clean water
Sick of your favourite swimming spots being too polluted to swim in? Four young local campaigners for freshwater say the time has come for New Zealand to make clean, safe lakes, rivers and streams a priority.
Since Sunday, starting in Taupo, the Choose Clean Water Tour is a 28-day project to document the stories of people who have been affected by the degradation of local lakes and waterways. With the ambitious goal of making 25 short films posted online, the tour will highlight the impact contaminated and degraded freshwater has on New Zealanders.
Joined by Kyleisha Foote, Paul Boyce, and Geoff Reid, spokesperson Marnie Prickett says along the way they will be gathering support for a petition calling on the House of Representatives to make primary contact or ‘‘swimmable’’ as the minimum standard for all waterways.
‘‘As it stands now, our rivers and lakes are allowed to pose a ‘‘moderate risk’’ of infection when people are wading or boating in them. That’s a crazy and extremely sad standard for our beautiful country.’’
With two thirds of monitored rivers unsafe to swim in, the group wants laws strengthened so that freshwater is clean and safe for people and wildlife.
‘‘It is especially important now as the Land and Water Forum conduct their review of freshwater legislation,’’ the Massey AgSci student says. ‘‘The priority for New Zealand’s freshwater legislation must be the health of people and the environment. Without improvements to [these], any resource management has failed.’’
Marnie says their quest was getting fantastic feedback even before they started.
‘‘People are really fired up. We know that New Zealand’s lakes and rivers are more polluted than they have ever been. They have become dirty drains that can make people sick and kill wildlife... We’ve lost sight of the fact that people use these rivers.’’
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy responded to the tour by claiming that 95 percent of dairy farms have fenced their waterways.
The tour is supported by the Tourism Export Council, Freshwater Foundation Charitable Trust and Freshwater for Life.
The first film was posted on Monday night (January 11) at 6.30pm, and tour progress can be followed on the choosecleanwaternz Facebook page and on the website .choosecleanwater.org.nz
Clean waterway advocates Kyleisha Foote and Marnie Prickett, as members of the Choose Clean Water Tour, have embarked on a month-long project to document the effects dirty waterways have on business, community and recreational users.