New Zealand’s ’100% pure’ mantle has cracked again with the publication of a report (allegedly ‘buried since June’) that one in five people in New Zealand has unsafe or unregistered drinking water that has not been classified.
The report, which is bound to promote further ‘NZ is third world‘ criticism, was released by the Ministry of Health after a 2008-2009 review of drinking water showed that quality in New Zealand was deteriorating.
Paul Gorman in the Press commented on the report, saying
About 849,000 people, or 20 per cent of Kiwis, were supplied with water that either failed to meet bacteriological standards or had not been classified because sources were unregistered.
That was a rise from 712,000 New Zealanders in the corresponding 2007-08 period.
Unacceptable levels of E. coli were in water supplied to 93,000 people, down from 118,000 the previous year.
However, 247,000 people received water that did not comply bacteriologically with standards because sampling was too infrequent to show compliance.
That was up from 194,000 people in the 2007-08 period…more here
But E.coli monitoring of 125 water supplies, mostly on camping grounds and Marae, had stopped whilst the number of water borne illnesses had doubled over the previous period.
Schools/Early Childhood Centres, Hospitals Have Shocking Results
Shockingly, Only a fifth of schools and early childhood centres have water that is fit to drink – 118 out of the 597 sampled. Some educational establishments had installed UV treatment and filtration to kill bacteria, but higher levels of UV were needed to destroy protozoan parasites and some viruses.
The stats were slightly better for hospitals with around 50% having clean water. Five out of twelve hospitals and health services failed the tests.
- Overall compliance has fallen by 3% in population terms during 2008/9. Approximately 80% of New Zealanders have bacteriologically-compliant drinking-water and protozoal-compliance was achieved in supplies serving 63% of the population.
- Of the 68 large supplies (ie. serving 10,000 or more people), four did not achieve bacteriological compliance and 18 did not achieve protozoal compliance in the survey year.
- Five of the hospital/health services with their own water supplies were bacteriologically non-compliant during 2008/9. Monitoring programmes need to be established for the supplies serving Aotea Health and Great Barrier Community Health. Waiheke Health Trust and Princess Margaret Hospital need to review/implement their corrective action procedures. The cause of the E. coli transgression in the Te Puia Springs Hospital and Village supply needs to be investigated and remedied.
- The improvement in compliance of school supplies has continued, with 20% of schools complying in 2008/9.
- Some water suppliers could avoid the need to undertake monitoring for P2 heavy metals by sampling to show the metals arise from the plumbosolvency of the water, and are not present in the water supplied to the consumer. DWAs can advise on the protocol required.
- Monitoring for E. coli ceased in a further 125 water supplies during the 2008/9 period.
- During 2008/9, the number of LA-run zones in which bacteriological transgressions were not followed up with adequate corrective action remains high at 32. This needs attention.
- Bacteriological compliance was lost in 160 zones, including three LA-run zones, between 2007/8 and 2008/9.
- Zones recorded as compliant but served by one or more treatment plants that did not comply bacteriologically because of excessive E. coli transgressions warrant further investigation.
- Discrepancies between the results of bacteriological monitoring by the water supplier and bacteriological surveillance by the DWA occurred in only six zones during 2008/9.
43% of NZ Bathing Waters are Unsafe
If you think the report on drinking water was bad you’ll be disgusted to hear that the bathing water results are far worse.
Given that not only was the problem known about but it was also getting worse, it should have given the regional councils all the clout they needed to deal with landowners and industries that are polluting the water. But what of the councils’ own storm and waste water run-offs that discharge directly onto beaches in places like Auckland and North Shore, what was to be done about them?
The Herald’s article said
Many popular swimming spots contain high levels of bacteria that cause diarrhoea or infection, a new report shows.
Of 206 rivers, lakes, lagoons and estuaries tested regularly by councils during summer, only 57 per cent were safe for swimming most of the time. The Ministry for the Environment report showed that one in nine freshwater swimming spots, including popular west coast lagoons, often had too much faecal matter in the water to be safe for bathing.
Piha Lagoon, where young children often swim, was Auckland’s worst spot…
Bethells Lagoon was above the safe threshold for bacteria in a quarter of its tests…
Northland region had the most spots – 10 out of 23 – that were consistently too polluted to swim in. The intensification of farming in that area was believed to be responsible for its poor freshwater quality….
Waterborne Diseases In NZ
A Ministry of Health 2006 report says that there are around 17,000 cases of gastroenteritis annually in New Zealand, but that is only a small fraction of the actual cases because of under reporting, even though acute gastroenteritis is a reportable disease.
The disease organisms are mainly bacterial (Campylobacteria, Salmonella,Shigella, Yersinia and toxigenic E.coli), protozoal (Cryptosporidia and Giardia) or viral (enterovirus or norovirus)
Waterborne disease is thought to account for 18,000 – 34,000 cases a year of which an average of 145 cases occur in outbreaks, the remaining cases being endemic.
New Zealand is recognised as having one of the highest incidences of campylobacteriosis in the developed world. Foodborne and waterborne transmission have been implicated as significant mechanisms in the complex ecology of the disease in the country.
The number of cases of giardiasis is increasing, with 555 for the first quarter of 2010, up from 375 in the previous quarter and New Zealand health officials are said to be concerned about a recent outbreak of 8 cases in Wellington – the capital city of New Zealand.
For all of our blogs about New Zealand’s 100% Pure Myth click here
Tom Hunt, writing for the Dominion Post, has revealed that the Department of Conservation may release a toxin into the upper Karori reservoir and the streams flowing into it this summer.
The toxin, Rotenone (A ’1080 for fish’) will be used in an effort to kill unwanted brown trout.
According to the article Rotenone presents
“no danger to humans and would be contained in Zealandia’s upper lake and only released once water was tested and shown to be safe, the wildlife sanctuary said.”
But the use of this poison is not new in 100% pure New Zealand, apparently it has been used for some years, this will be its first use in flowing water
“Rotenone has been used in New Zealand to great effect for a number of years, but only in lakes and ponds. If this trial is successful, rotenone could be a major breakthrough in protecting and restoring native freshwater ecosystems, where there are threatened species of native fish.
Dr West said when used correctly it posed “little if any” risk to public health.”
“When used correctly”, there’s the rub.
To add further discomfort “little if any” suggests that even with the greatest of care there are still risks to the public. Are those risks low enough enough to make it worth using this poison, and what damage will be done to the native wildlife and ecosystems that already exist in these waters? DOC say that as many native banded kokopu and crayfish as possible will be caught and held in cages until it’s all over, which suggests that many will also be killed off. Read the report here.
Wikipedia has an entry for Rotenone, that says that it is mildly toxic to humans, is a possible Parkinson-causing agent and may last six months in water:
…Rotenone is also used in powdered form to reduce parasitic mites on chickens and other fowl. In the United States and in Canada, all uses of rotenone except as a piscicide (fish killer) are being phased out.
Rotenone is classified by the World Health Organization as moderately hazardous. It is mildly toxic to humans and other mammals, but extremely toxic to insects and aquatic life including fish. This higher toxicity in fish and insects is due to the fact that the lipophilic rotenone is easily taken up through the gills or trachea, but not as easily through the skin or through the gastrointestinal tract.
The lowest lethal dose for a child is 143 mg/kg. Human deaths attributed to Rotenone are rare because its irritating action causes vomiting. Deliberate ingestion of rotenone can be fatal.
The compound breaks down when exposed to sunlight and usually has a short lifetime of six days in the environment. In water rotenone may last six months.
Rotenone is classified by the USDA National Organic Program as a nonsynthetic and was allowed to be used to grow organic produce until 2005, when it was added to the list of prohibited substances due to concerns about its safety. However, it has since been re-approved…
..rotenone was investigated as a possible Parkinson-causing agent. Both MPTP and rotenone are lipophilic and can cross the blood-brain barrier.
In 2010, a study was published detailing the progression of Parkinson’s-like symptoms in mice following chronic intragrastric ingestion of low doses of rotenone. The concentrations in the central nervous system were below detectable limts, yet still induced PD pathology.
The question is this – should a country that trades internationally on its clean, green, 100% pure image be carrying out culls of its wildlife using poisons? Surely there are more environmentally sustainable and less damaging methods that could be used.
DOC’s announcement was discussed on the forum at Flyshop.co.nz, one member had this to say about Rotenone’s use in South Africa (emphasis ours)
DOC to Exterminate Trout, the thin edge of the wedge?
In the last year or two in South Africa we have been fighting the same thing. Cape Nature want to use Rotenone in four of our rivers as a pilot project to save some of the indigenous fish species.
An “independent” EIA was done and everything is now hunky dory ito using it in rivers.
If you study the scientific research available on the net you will see that in nearly all cases using rotenone in rivers is not successful and the “problem” species return (even the studies quoted in the EIA mentioned this). This is mainly due to the fact that it is practically impossible to treat an entire river properly unless you overdose it.
In addition to this the “experts” tell you that at the concentrations of rotenone which are used, none of the insect life will be affected. What they have been unable to explain in a satisfactory way is how they can guarantee the dosage will remain the same throughout the river – especially when by their own admission they will need to bomb pools in the river with high doses to prevent the trout evading the poison.
The other joke is that they will tell you how safe rotenone is and that it has been used in pesticides and insecticides for years. What they also fail to mention though is that all the companies in the USA that supply rotenone, voluntarily withdrew registration of it’s use for all purposes besides as a piscicide – wonder why if it is so safe.
I get seriously annoyed at the bs that these so called scientists expect us to believe. Good luck and fight it all the way! If you want some links to some of the scientific studies shout and I will dig them up.
For more about New Zealand’s green credentials read Green Credentials, or Green Wash?
Read also: posts tagged 1080
A couple of days back we blogged about the disgusting increase in pollution levels in New Zealand’s bathing waters and of how some waters are being billed as ‘safe for swimming’ when they are so obviously polluted with storm or waste water.
Now it seems that contamination in Waitara may be making those most hardy of souls – surfers – sick, despite the water there getting ‘good results.’
Water quality in Waitara is under the spotlight again as surfers claim the water has made them sick.
Veteran Waitara surfer Jamie Andrews told the Taranaki Daily News he developed an intense earache which lasted almost a week while New Plymouth surfer Lydia Walsh said she broke out in a rash immediately after she left the water.
The claims come as the Taranaki Regional Council considered a report clearing the water in Waitara’s river and coastline as safe for swimming.
The monitoring report says Waitara’s water consistently meets the guidelines for recreational use.
Waitara’s water quality has been a hot topic of late as the town fights for a sewage pipeline connection with New Plymouth and an end to dumping treated sewage at sea.
Yesterday, Waitara surfers told the Taranaki Daily News the ocean surrounding their favourite break stinks “like fart” and they believe it is responsible for ear infections and rashes…
But yesterday, TRC environment spokesman Gary Bedford said the council’s monitoring showed the foreshore water met bathing requirements. A full report detailing historical and current information on the state of the water quality on the Waitara river and the coastal environment was tabled at the TRC’s policy and planning committee meeting.
The report says bathing beach bacteriological monitoring shows the foreshore is safe for recreational use. “In the past year, 100 per cent of guidelines were met,” said Mr Bedford” Read the full report here
The Taranaki Regional Council’s own website has this to say about pollution in the mouth of the river:
…The Council’s freshwater bathing monitoring programme during last summer showed that bathing water quality in the Waitara River is by no means the worst in New Zealand. (ed. we note that this was in the summer and the implication is that the results were not good)
“Water quality in the lower reaches of the Waitara River is typical of any river that has a significant proportion of its catchment in developed farmland, particularly dairying.
“But there have been significant improvements in the last 30 years to reduce the impacts of agriculture on the Waitara River.”
We’d like to know exactly where those foreshore samples are taken – in the areas surfers use? Are the sample taken during the winter and following periods of heavy rainfall and what degree of treatment the sewage effluent gets.
Waitara fumes over sewerage scheme delay - April 2009
“A project to pump the town’s waste through a 13km pipeline to the New Plymouth treatment plant was due to start last year but the new draft Long Term Council Community Plan has put the project off until 2015…”
Doco claims pollution horror -21 June 2010
“A documentary exposing the Waitara River as one of the most polluted in the country – and slamming Taranaki authorities for doing little about it – airs tonight. Taradise Lost, produced by Maori Television, claims the effect of sewage and industrial waste has made the river toxic and has ruined traditional seafood grounds. In the documentary, iwi blame the pollution on the Taranaki Regional Council, claiming it is not protecting the environment.
They say the New Plymouth District Council is also at fault, as it has enough money to pay for new sewerage for Waitara but has chosen to spend money on the coastal walkway and sports stadium upgrades instead…”
The very day after the government made a very public backtrack on mining Schedule 4 land it’s been revealed that Australian company AWE is to prospect for oil close to the Marlborough Sounds following its disappointment in the Tui oilfield, off Taranaki.
The focus is now likely to be on minerals outside of the conservation estate, especially oil, lignite and iron sands.
From the Marlborough Express
Australian company AWE is about to drill a well close to the Marlborough Sounds, targeting a prospect that could hold up to 100 million barrels of oil, after drilling three duds in Taranaki.
Environmental group Greenpeace says the plan to drill close to d’Urville Island was “quite alarming” after the worst oil spill in United States history at a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico.
AWE is a 42.5 per cent partner in the highly profitable Tui field off the Taranaki coast, which produced about 4.8 million barrels of oil in the June year.
The Tuatara-1 well is about 10 nautical miles (18 kilometres) west of d’Urville Island and about 45km northeast of Nelson. The well will take up to a month to drill, starting within the week…read the full article here
Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras International Braspetro B.V was recently given a 5 year permit to drill for oil on 12,333 square kilometres off the North Island’s East Cape. Water depths range from shallow to 3000m at its northern reaches. BP’s leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico is in water 1500m deep.
There’s believed to be $100 Billion worth of resource in the Southland lignite field. Trials carried out for Solid Energy to reduce the moisture content of lignite have proved successful, yielding a briquette product that is on a par with Ohai coal.
Solid Energy welcomed the result and an announcement was made by its joint venture partner GTL Energy (GTLE) on 12 July 2010 that the company had successfully commissioned its first commercial-scale lignite upgrading plant near South Heart, North Dakota in the United States. The plant may take 100,000 tonnes of lignite per annum from Solid Energy’s New Vale Opencast Mine, near Mataura.
The trial also “boded well” for Solid Energy’s proposed pilot briquetting plant in Southland.
Also in the news today, Dairy company Fonterra have announced that they are to use coal to power a new milk processing plant:
The company will not put a figure on it, but it plans to use coal to fire a 30-megawatt boiler at a planned factory near Darfield, 45 kilometres west of Christchurch.
The boiler will also be able to run on wood, but Fonterra documents state that coal is the most “practicable” fuel.
Fonterra, the country’s biggest company, says the environmental effects of a coal-fired plant are “negligible” or, in the case of sulphur dioxide emissions, minor.
But environmental group Greenpeace, whose activists blocked coal deliveries to Fonterra’s South Canterbury factory in May, says the move shows Fonterra is more interested in expanding production than looking after the environment…
The rest of the world is working toward sustainable green energy and New Zealand is still trying to exploit hydrocarbons, something that doesn’t sit too well with the clean, green 100% Pure image it tries to project.
See also our Green Credentials, Or Greenwash? page