Our Lakes Not Pure NZ


The latest official report on the state of lake quality in NZ paints a disturbing picture with at least  third of our lakes unhealthy and getting worse.

The Status and Trends 2010 Report on Lake Water Quality says that while our lake water quality compares favourably with Europe and North America there are signs of real concern.

In fact 32% of our monitored lakes have poor water quality and that more lakes are deteriorating in water quality than are improving.

And as environmentalists have been trying to tell farmers, the lake water quality is worst in low-land intensively farmed areas such as the Waikato and Manawatu.

Sixty-eight lakes had reliable data for the period 2005 to 2009 to enable trends in water quality to be measured.  191 lakes showed deterioration and eight showed improvement.

The deterioration in lake water quality was worst in Canterbury between 2005 and 2009, making up 15 of the 19 lakes nationwide that went backwards.

Also,our harbour looks dodgy when you peer into it

Environment minister Nick Smith says that New Zealand needs to improve its freshwater management to ensure our lakes measure up to our clean, green reputation.

He said the Government is ramping up spending on freshwater clean-up initiatives, from $17 million from 2003-2008 to $94 million from 2009-2014.  ”It is encouraging the lake showing the greatest improvement in water quality is Lake Rotoiti in the Bay of Plenty, proving the success of the Rotorua Lakes Water Quality initiative.”

Greens co-leader Dr Russel 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.”




  1. Draco T Bastard says:

    He said the Government is ramping up spending on freshwater clean-up initiatives

    Oh goody, lets dirty them up and then clean them…

    He obviously doesn’t realise that it’s far easier to just not dirty them in the first place.

  2. karl says:

    “Environment minister Nick Smith says that New Zealand needs to improve its freshwater management to ensure our lakes measure up to our clean, green reputation.”

    We need user-pays lake cleaning, and free-market greening initiatives. Or some other ACT-type bullshit which will save us all.

    Hey, I know! - PPP intitiatives: We sell the lake to some multinational for the next 50 years, and they promise to make water quality a little better (details to be subject to later definition).

  3. Joshua says:

    Draco T Bastard - I think you’ll find that the ramp up in cost is to put preventative measures like education in place. Cleaning a river is mostly done by prevention, which over time, since water flows in the river, will naturally improve.

    How were you thinking they would clean up? Cause a see no other practicable way.

  4. Joshua says:

    And on that, why do construction companies have to face such stringent assessments on their environmental activities while farmers face bugger all, especially since they do more damage.

    We need to ramp up testing, as such is done on Construction Sites, to small building activities and farming practices. It works well in the construction industry, it will on these projects to.

  5. Richard says:

    You are right Joshua if construction workers have to construct holding ponds and place hay bales etc over drain mouths why shouldn’t all commercial operators such as dairy farmers do the same?

    WE seem to have strange double standards. We spend millions on sewage plants to stop human waste going untreated into the Hauraki Gulf then at the other end of the gulf Hauraki Planes streams have become open sewers of raw untreated cow s..t oozing directly into the sea. The waste from cows must equate to waste from at least ten to fifteen million people!

    All paddocks should be fenced off and foliage planted near waterways. This has I understand been done near Raglan and water quality has shown a marked improvement

  6. DanC says:

    Well I hope that $94 million isn’t spent on fat cats salary’s but on real solutions. Farmers should plant effluent absorbing plants along the edge of paddock run offs. Maybe beneficiaries could get involved with planting around public waterways?

  7. Matt says:

    What’s especially galling about Smith saying anything on the topic of dirty waterways is that he’s the Minister who sacked all the Environment Canterbury councillors and installed commissioners because farmers were complaining that ECan was taking too long to investigate water use consent applications. Farmers who didn’t like the fact that ECan was favouring clean water over farming.

    Want cleaner water? Don’t vote National!

  8. karl says:

    Matt - I was wondering whether to comment on that, but I knew too little about the issue. The EC thing is - no matter the facts on the ground - very worrying for me. For a government to simply kick an ELECTED body out onto the kurb is a pretty radical blow to democracy. When you look at how they reformed Auckland, and witness what they did in the afternmath of the Canterbury Earthquake (basically giving themselves unlimited power to override and ignore resource consents, by law), you wonder whether the current government has ANY respect for local government.

  9. Matt says:

    Karl, basically ECan didn’t have the resources to deal with all the water use consent applications. The Act that replaced the council with commissioners and suspended this year’s election gave the commissioners enormous powers and a lot of extra resources, and the ECan councillors said at the time “If you gave us all that, we could deal with the backlog easily and quickly.” But, of course, that would still be a farmer-unfriendly council, elected on the basis of preserving waterways, doing the deciding.
    At least, that’s how it looks to the cynical outsiders, especially when one looks at some of the commissioners who’ve been appointed and their farming credentials.


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