New Zealand Lakes – Not 100% Pure

Nearly a third of them are unhealthy, according to a NIWA report and pastoral land use has got a lot to do with it.

The quality of healthy lakes is declining because of nutrients coming off of livestock farming, New Zealand’s fresh waters are paying a heavy price for industrial dairying and intensive agriculture – according to a press release issued by the NZ Green Party.

New Zealand needs urgently to establish clean water rules to protect freshwater, emphasis ours:

Delayed report shows need for clean water rules

Thursday, 11 November 2010, 10:44 am
Press Release: Green Party

A new report showing the poor health of New Zealand’s lakes demonstrates why we urgently need clean water rules to protect our waterways, the Green Party said today.

“Almost a third of all lakes in New Zealand are unhealthy, and many are getting worse,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said.

“New Zealanders love our rivers and lakes, and we want to protect them. Our kids have a birthright to swim and fish in our waterways, but this legacy is at risk.”

Dr Norman was commenting on Lake Water Quality in New Zealand 2010, a report by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). The report was due to be released by the Ministry for the Environment last week, but was held back until today.

“One can only speculate about the reasons for the delay,” Dr Norman said.

“It is interesting timing that the report’s release was delayed during the World Dairy Summit in Auckland, when the report concludes that pastoral land use is associated with the ecological deterioration of our lakes.

“This report is further evidence that we need clean water rules to set standards, limits, and targets for water quality as soon as possible.”

Based on monitoring of 112 lakes between 2005 and 2009, the report’s authors projected that nearly a third of New Zealand’s 3820 lakes are unhealthy. They also make clear conclusions about the cause: “The most significant finding from this study […] is that pastoral land use in New Zealand is associated with eutrophication and ecological deterioration. Furthermore, the condition of some lakes currently in good condition is declining, likely as a result of nutrient enrichment from livestock farming.”

Dr Norman said New Zealand’s rivers and lakes were bearing the ill effects of agricultural intensification and industrial dairying.

“It’s time we took action to turn this around by introducing clear rules for clean water.

In many areas, the situation is getting worse. Between 2005 and 2009, twice as many lakes were deteriorating as were improving.

“This report provides yet more evidence that we urgently need clean water rules. The water measurement regulations announced today are a start, but they are well short of what’s needed.

“Not only did John Key’s Government sit on this report, it’s sitting on a draft National Policy Statement (NPS) on freshwater management. This is ready to go and would set clear targets and timelines for improving the state of fresh water in New Zealand.

The Land and Water Forum reported that we need an NPS, and quickly. This report shows there is no more room for delay.

“We need clean water rules and we need them now,” Dr Norman said.


Lake Water Quality in New Zealand 2010: Status and trends:


A short while ago we blogged about another strike to New Zealand’s 100% pure myth with the revelation that 20% Of Kiwis Have Unsafe Drinking Water.

The drinking water quality figures were released in 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

The quality of the water that Kiwis and holidaymakers swim in is a lot worse.

In July we pointed out that in less than two years the number of unsafe bathing places had increased from 29% to to 43%, if a report was The Herald was anything to go by:

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….” more here

Clean?  – definitely not, Green? is that referring to people who believe advertising slogans, or the colour of the water?

100% pure ? – not even close.

You may also like to take a look at our Green Credentails, or Green Wash page and other posts tagged 100% Pure Myth