The front page story in last week’s Tribune regarding the horrendous pollution of the vast proportion of our fresh water makes me wonder how people will ever know if their favourite stream, river or lake is safe to swim in or not. With such high levels of contamination being common, it’s high time that proper signposted warning of the dangers be placed in all the areas pollution occurs.
I travelled the whole of the Manawatu River Pathway and there is only one general sign about pollution, despite the fact that Horizons rated the river as a health risk (red flagged) for both people and pets on the same day.
The sign referred to a website and was not easy to understand for non-English speakers, and did not provide information as to the health risk rating at the time.
I have also seen children bathing in a beachside stream that was also classified by Horizons as a health risk, oblivious to the dangers they faced, without a sign in sight. Somehow we can provide many fire danger rating signs that change daily but ones that refer to the health risk level of our rivers and lakes seems to be beyond us.The vast majority of people don’t realise that the little stream that looks so inviting on a hot summer day, is going to make them or their children sick or, in extreme cases, as has happened, kill their pets.
Overseas visitors would never expect such a horrifying level of pollution in a country that projects itself as clean and green, and with the lack of any health warnings, just assume it’s safe to swim. After all, thousands swim in the Rhine and other large European rivers, with millions living on their shores, so who would expect little Horseshoe Bend in sparsely populated New Zealand to be a risk?
Anywhere else in the developed world people expect to see signage indicating the level and type of pollution in waterways. It’s time we demanded the same for all our waters.
Gavin Roache Palmerston North