On a quest for clean wa­ter

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX 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.

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