The Chose Clean Water Tour, Lonely Planet, and Water Quality Warnings

too high a price

NZ’s intensive dairy industry comes at a heavy cost to the once pristine environment supports the The Chose Clean Water Tour (CCWT) of New Zealand.

The project is currently raising public awareness about degraded water quality in New Zealand and the impact of farming pollution on the country’s waterways. Follow their twitter account here and visit their website here . Today the CCWT was in Taranaki and will be moving up to Waitangi on Saturday.

From wadeable to swimmable

Choose Clean Water is pushing for waterways that are good enough to swim and is

travelling around the country on a month-long journey to document New Zealanders’ relationship to their waterways through short films.

The campaign will present a petition to Parliament calling for strong protection for freshwater, including raising the minimum standard for rivers and lakes from “wadeable” to swimmable.

Group spokesman Paul Boyce, a Massey University freshwater ecology student, said there were a whole lot of negative implications that came with setting a goal of wadeable.

“If that is the highest we are aiming for and maybe hoping we’ll do better, I think that is quite disingenuous…

“So we just tried to campaign around and we wanted to tell the personal stories, the lived experience – it has been very moving.”…

The group consists of two Massey students, including Boyce, a Massey graduate and two film-makers.

Boyce said they were aiming for 10,000 signatures on [a] petition and were currently at about 6000. The petition was able to be signed at, where people can also upload their own stories.

CCWT have contacted John Campbell and invited him to view one of their videos; they also say that New Zealand’s water pollution has made it into the pages of Lonely Planet.

From the Lonely Planet guide

” A 2013 study found that New Zealanders rate water quality as the country’s most serious environmental issue. Their concern is well founded, with one third of NZ’s lakes, rivers and beaches deemed unsafe for swimming; research from diverse quarters confirms that the health of NZ’s waterway is in serious decline. The primary culprit is ‘dirty dairying’ – cow effluent leaching into freshwater ecosystems, carrying with it high levels of nirates, as well as bacteria and parasites such as E. coli and giardia…

A little while ago we wrote about spring water marketed to China as 100% pure but with unacceptably high levels of nitrites. Canterbury residents were told to boil ‘crunchy’ tap water contaminated with E. coli;  and New Zealand’s dairy industry pollution being equivalent to the population of China.

Yet despite all the evidence to the contrary New Zealand continues to market itself and its products abroad as 100% pure.

Surely it’s time to admit that’s false advertising and do something to reduce the pollution. Time to clean up dirty farming practices in New Zealand before it’s too late.

It appears there’s one rule for the landed gentry and cattle barons (who allow their stock to repeatedly foul waterways without getting prosecuted) and one rule for everyone else.

Unfortunately too many organizations are eager to jump on the 100% pure bandwagon, while doing little to reduce the pollution in their own back yards. Towns that use the ‘pure’ accolade, without making an effort to ensure their marketing hype has more than a nodding acquaintance with reality.

Take for example, the Eco-tourism industry that has sprung up in small towns in New Zealand desperate to carve-out a living from tourists. Towns that survive on whale, dolphin and seal watching but do very little to enforce the laws that are supposed to protect aquatic habitats. Take for instance :

Water quality warnings in place for Kaikoura’s Lyell Creek (Jan 2016)

Warnings are in place for recreational users of Kaikoura’s Lyell Creek after the site returned high readings of E Coli in December and January.

The site has long been dogged by water quality issues with a permanent warning in place at the mouth of the creek.

The grade is based on risk of faecal contamination and water testing for faecal indicator bacteria, and swimming should be avoided there.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) undertakes regular summer-season water quality monitoring, testing at 51 freshwater and 45 coastal swimming spots across the region…

There is a permanent warning at Lake Rotorua, also south of Kaikoura, which has been in place since 2009.

Because long-term testing at the site indicates a regular bloom of the potentially toxic cyanobacteria Anabaena and/or Microcystis the warning advises people to avoid contact with the water…source

and toxic algae have been found in the Kahutara River (Dec 2015)

People have been advised to stay away from the Kahutara River, near Kaikoura, after potentially toxic blue-green algae were found in the river.

The Canterbury District Health Board found traces of Phormidium, a type of benthic cyanobacteria, which looks like dark brown/ black algal mats earlier this month.

Canterbury District Health Board medical officer Dr Alistair Humphrey says says people and animals, particularly dogs, should avoid the water in the Kahutara River near SH1 and the Lagoon until the health warning has been lifted.

The presence of the algae extends from the main stem of the river down into the Lagoon south of the Peketa camping ground, he said… source

Toxic algae makes Masterton’s Waipoua River unsafe for swimming

A river that runs through Masterton has so much toxic algae in it that people are being warned to avoid the area.

Contact with toxic algae can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritations and other allergy-type symptoms. It can also kill livestock and dogs if eaten.

Greater Wellington Regional Council discovered toxic algae growing in the Waipoua River at Colombo Rd, near Queen Elizabeth Park, in December. Warning signs were posted at key access points along the river…

The regional council issued a warning for the Silverstream Bridge area of the river in early January. Toxic algae levels there remain elevated there but it is safe to use the river, although dogs should be kept on a lead.

Henley Lake, in Masterton, is also suffering from high levels of toxic algae at present and is closed for all water activities.

People were advised to avoid any contact with Lake Tutira, north of Napier, on Monday after the discovery of a toxic algal bloom… source

British press slam New Zealand for its 100% Pure BS

For a country that markets itself to the world with the slogan ‘100% Pure’, New Zealand’s environmental credentials are not as impeccable as many would think.

The majority of its rivers are too polluted to swim in. Its record on preservation of natural environments is among the worst in the world on a per capita basis.

And it is the only OECD country that does not produce a regular national report on its environment…

Agricultural exports, including dairy, meat, fruit and wine, command high premiums internationally thanks to New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of safe, natural and high-quality food.

‘It was only a matter of time before our dirty little secret came out,’ said Jill Brinsdon, brand strategist at Radiation, a brand agency in Auckland…read on

We think it’s about time New Zealand dropped the 100% pure tag line and diverted the advertising budget to cleaning up its act.

Want to help? stop buying dairy products and take care with what you put down the drain.

Seen a company use the 100% Pure NZ branding? ask them what they’re doing to improve water quality in their area before you give them your business.

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One thought on “The Chose Clean Water Tour, Lonely Planet, and Water Quality Warnings

  1. I think it is only a question of time before someone (probably from overseas), files a class action lawsuit against Tourism New Zealand over the 100% pure bullshit. To market the country as an ecological paradise when it isn’t is a clear case of FRAUD. Sooner or later it is going to backlash big time.

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