Let’s focus on the issues- water quality and TRC

In response to recent Letters to the Editor let’s focus on the issues. Water quality and the Taranaki Regional Council.  The dairy and ever-expanding oil and gas sector in Taranaki place increasing pressure on the environment particularly with direct discharge to water. Freshwater quality limits are being determined nationally.

The Ministry for Environment (MFE) upgraded ‘suitability for swimming’ indicators. This is based on international best practice by the World Health Organisation.  As they note on their website “it is important people can swim without getting sick from contaminated water”.

Taranaki Regional Council published a State of the Environment monitoring report this month. 16 of 17 freshwater sites considered for suitability for recreation were graded poor or very poor. TRC publically argued with the MFE.

The Ministry of Health take a similar approach. They use TRC data to determine the safety of the water. They have the same message as MFE.

The Taranaki Regional Council website includes a freshwater quality map. This provides the public with actual data.  21 samples were taken between November to March this year at Merrilands Domain on the Waiwakaiho River.  The E.coli count ranged from 11 to 3000. 3 samples were at ‘Alert’ and a further two ‘Action’. What was occurring at this site on the more than 4 months when samples were not taken?

Now ask the question why the environmental watchdog of our waterways does not want to take a precautionary approach or have national standards for freshwater ‘imposed’ on them.