Selwyn River update

Greetings All

I was invited by the 7 Rivers Project group to speak to those who assembled (and on camera) at Coe’s Ford before their hikoi along the Selwyn’s empty river bed. I instead nominated Alan Strong. He is from a family who have had a crib in the Selwyn Huts “for ever”. He is an engineer and recently co-opted F&G Councillor. His life time of history on that river was ammunition enough to counter the party line, and some deliberate mis-information, from Fed Farmers and ECAN.

He delivered what I had hoped Colin could do when I asked him earlier, as Colin also had a history on the river; unlike me.

The plight of the Selwyn River has captured the public’s (and the news media’s) attention. It is the end point toward which every river in Aotearoa is heading unless things change drastically – see the article posted by Ian today.

This hikoi was followed by a public meeting at Lincoln. 150 attended, F&G councillors, farmers, environmental group reps, locals, etc, but no visible reporters, Alan was on the panel and was again impressive. Sadly the meeting did not pass a resolution but the sentiment was very strong about the loss of a river. 

There are different ways to skin a cat and Alan has summarized these in the attached paper. Even if the Selwyn River means nothing to you it could be the “Sharpville massacre” equivalent in the public’s fight/crusade to regain our rivers.

I am still active in trying to get a Chch Eco-hub established. It has real potential to put pressure on politicians, local and national, to wake up over water issues.

As the chair on One Voice Te Reo Kotahi (OVTRK = 140 small NGOs and community groups) I get regular meetings, at least quarterly, with local senior staff of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, ECAN, all three local Councils, the Urban Development Strategy group, CDHB and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu. Although we primarily facilitate communication between these organizations and the 140 groups on our register the organizing group members are able to raise water issues every single time. It is part of a squeaky wheel gets oiled approach.

We cannot count on a revolution and, as yet, we have no guarantee that a change of government will solve our issues. Many of these issues developed under the last Green/Labour/NZ First administration..


As they say in Thailand. The only way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time.

Reflect on Alan Strong’s paper and consider whether in is happening in a river near you!

Rex

  • The paper sets out some of the main impacts on the lake as of last year. The main lake issue is the lack of in-flow (ditto for spawning). This leads to a lack of “flushing” of the lake and a build up of a fairly toxic mix of phosphates and nitrates; toxic that is to all but the lethal algal blooms. Of particular significance is the lake level. I have an article coming up in the next NZFFA newsletter on the Canterbury situation in terms of river, and the lake, volumes. On the date that I researched the volumes the mean lake level was just 0.52m. Remember this is NZ’s 5th largest lake!!!!

  • The sea-run browns are in dire straits. F&G closed sea-run winter fishing last season, and next, in order to assist them to recover.

  • The eel numbers are just a fraction of what they were but over-fishing has also contributed to this. The eels were sent off to Holland and Germany willy nilly and, of course they were free to the harvesting folk, just like our water is to the bottlers. I have/had photos taken in 1971 of the night time migration over the bar at Taumutu at full moon in Feb and March – a hundred thousand a night – but that is just a memory. After the Selwyn, Irwell etc dried up so did their habitat. The lake was just a gathering place prior to migration. There is a wonderful old movie available through the National Film library (hopefully on disc now) called “Eel history was a mystery”. It shows the eel harvesting at Birdling’s Flat in the 1930s and 40s. What I saw at Taumutu in the 70s was similar.

  • Yes!! We are heading the same way as the USA. The Grand Canyon was carved out by the mighty Colorado River. It has ceased however to reach the sea for over 20 years in recent times as the result of over exploitation for irrigation. At least the US Federal government stopped funding irrigation projects in the 1970s.

Eh? What’s Happening Later this Year?

by Tony Orman
Kapiti Fly Fisher Club editor Malcolm Francis’ e mail reminded  me “an election is looming in September and the issues with the present Governments attitudes to clean rivers not easy.
As if I didn’t know.  You see one of my early mentors in deerstalking and trout fishing was the late John B Henderson, president of the NZ Deerstalkers’ Association and a councillor on the Wellington Acclimatisation Society for a number of years. John and I hunted the Tararuas behind Otaki Forks and he showed me in the 1950s, how to fish the dry fly on the Wairarapa’s Makakahi and Mangatainoka rivers.
He was a tireless and brilliant advocate. John was intelligent and well educated and yet  by nature was humble and a true gentleman. He believed in fighting strongly for a clean environment and sensible fish and game management. He never shied away from politics because he had a strong belief it was everyone’s right and duty to get in and question politicians. His philosophy rubbed off onto me I guess. 
No wonder I had a prolonged feisty, public debate with government cabinet minister Duncan Mcntyre in Hastings prior to the 1972 election. A main subject was trout farming but selling land to rich Americans to exploit fishing and hunting values and “Save Manapouri” from raising the lake to give discounted power to an multinational corporate for a an aluminium smelter also featured. McIntyre was defeated in the Hasting seat, a dumping which the “NZ Herald” editorial described as a “shock result.”
“I urge the public to be more determined to bring the debate to the public for its judgement and never to be duped into believing that politics and the environment are other than cause and effect,” John said on more than one occasion in his NZDA speeches or Victoria University environmental lectures.
What this means is threats to your trout fishing start with politics. Same with sea fishing. For example, corporate sea fishing companies lobby their minister. Dairying , irrigation, forestry and other powerful commercial interests lobby politicians and departments. They employ persons to do just that. Corporates make donations to political parties to gain favour and precedence over the public interest.
In 1972 the outdoor public voted strongly against an arrogant government. But it seems today there’s a contagious doziness and a whole lot of inertia out there. After all a million Kiwis cannot be bothered registering as a voter or to vote in general elections. The fishing and hunting arena is no different. Take Fish and Game Councils. Recent fish and game elections, there’s been that inertia with a number of regions not having enough nominations to fill the seats around tables. Voting numbers were poor.
It’s that inertia that contributes to mediocre government and local councils with poor decision making.
You might say, “well set an example”. Well since the 1970s I’ve spent about 25 years on various Acclimatisation Society councils and on their successor fish and game councils plus a few other fishing, hunting and environmental bodies to boot. I’ve done my dash – I reckon it’s younger people’s turn.
But in a general election I can vote and I always have and will in future.
I confess I’m a swinging voter having voted for Labour, National, even Social Credit (remember them?) and NZ First to name some. Swinging voters are the ones who make the difference. Apparently just a 2% swing in voting can decide which party makes it to government. And under MMP the parties other than Labour or National can form government. Pundits are picking NZ First to make a big impact come September.
Malcolm highlighted “clean rivers” as a big issue. Indeed water and rivers I believe, will be a very big issue. This government proposes to centralise things – that’s a word for dictatorial “state control” in my book. It proposes “centralising” the functioning of the Resource Management Act. In one way you can feel sorry for government  as its case is not helped by its spokesman the often rude, abrasive, ego-centric Environment Minister Nick Smith.
I am concerned about a few other issues. 1080 poison (again use of it has been centralised to government) – no one really knows its effect on freshwater ecosystems except I understand eels and freshwater crayfish have been found with 1080 residues way above permissible levels. I’m concerned about foreigners buying farm and forestry (2016 figures show a very big increase in foreign buyers compared to 2015) and blocked access. Excessive tourists and freedom campers pooping by riversides anger me. I’m concerned at total mismanagement of sea fisheries. Kahawai, which I enjoy fly rodding for, have been plundered by corporate purse seiners.
Perhaps you may disagree with me. I’d be delighted if you agreed or disagreed. Either reaction shows you’re not afflicted with inertia and apathy.
Thankfully groups like NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations are advocacies. Personally I’m disappointed with the lack of strong advocacy at election times by NZ Fish and Game. But then bizarrely when Fish and Game Councils were set up in 1987 they were made by law, duty bound to the Minister of Conservation. I believe Fish and Game’s first and foremost moral duty is to its shareholders, i.e. licence holders. Perhaps then action is over to the individual – you?
 So to the forthcoming general election, take an interest. Study policies and MPs statements, even go to candidate meetings or through letters to editor, facebook etc., ask questions on key issues such as clean rivers, 1080, irrigation, foreign ownership, pollution or whatever.
 Make a difference this  election.
 

Dairy effluent discharges result in large fines

A farmer and a family company have been convicted and fined a total of $65,750 for unlawful discharges of dairy effluent on two Waikato farms.

Ian Douglas Troughton and GT & AB Limited were convicted and sentenced by Judge David Kirkpatrick in the Auckland District Court for offences under the Resource Management Act.  The discharges occurred between December 2015 and March 2016 at farms located at Patetonga and Turua.

The prosecution, brought by Waikato Regional Council, followed a complaint about effluent management practices on one of the farms in December 2015. A council inspection found that effluent had overflowed from a small sump flowing 130 metres across the paddock and into a farm drain that linked to the Piako River.

The farm had previously been inspected in 2012 by the council and Mr Troughton had been advised that the effluent storage was inadequate and at high risk of overflowing.

Council staff inspected another property owned by Mr Troughton in March 2016.  A pipe was found to be discharging dairy effluent from an underpass directly into a paddock where it had formed a large pond. The effluent had also made its way to a farm drain that links to the Waihou River. Council staff gave direction to the farmer to clean up the effluent. However this was not done.

The council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch said:  “The inadequacy of the effluent management system on the first farm was clearly pointed out to the farmer some years ago but he elected to do nothing about it.

It is disappointing that we have had to revert to prosecution to, hopefully, bring about positive behavioural change. We trust that the fines imposed here serve as a reminder to all farmers to have adequate storage for their dairy effluent and be vigilant with their management of their systems.”

I wasn’t questioning how many dairy farms were in the Waikato, and fully understand the enormity of this task. However once a non-compliant farmer IS identified the task is made 100% easier.

Part of the pollution problems we have is down to a few farmers that won’t act and carry out compliance requirements when advised and this gives all farmers a very bad name, when in fact it is a few that should where this title.

Fishing and Outdoors newspaper

The bigger issue here is once the Counciil found that ‘Mr Troughton had been advised that the effluent storage was inadequate and at high risk of overflowing

in 2012 is why did the Council not closely monitor it?

Why did it take 3-4 years and why did the Council wait for and act on a complaint?

cheers

Graham

Waikato Regional Council

Hi Graham

Re your comments below:

·     We were disappointed that guidance was given to Mr Troughton, as it is given to many farmers, and he elected not to act on it.

·    We trusted that he would act on the advice given to him.

·    There are approximately 4500 thousand dairy farms in the Waikato and we are simply not able to visit every farm on a regular basis.  We are reliant on the eyes and ears of the community to make us aware of potential breaches so that we may respond accordingly, as occurred here.

·    You will note that it was a proactive inspection of the second farm that found the discharges there.

Stephen

Stephen Ward senior communications advisor (media)
Waikato Regional Council

Fishing and Outdoors newspaper

In this case the non-compliant farmer was identified, he was given advise as you say. Then there is a time period of 3-4 years before Council acted on a complaint made by a member of the public!!

Really, so from what you are saying Council ignored the non-compliant farmer until a complaint was made by a member of the public.

This is exactly where the problem lies.

Council are not following up on non-compliant farmers.

I would presume that the number of non-compliant farmers would be relatively small at 5% of 4500 that would be 225. Hardly a difficult task given the time period of 3-4 years!!

This shows that Council need a major shakeup on how they deal with this issue surely.

Graham

“State Control” of 1080 an Arrogant Move

A national outdoors forum, the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) has hit out at the Minister for the Environment’s announcement that local regional councils will no longer vet the use of 1080 and that the only power to do so, will be with central government.
Co-chairman of CORANZ, conservationist and author Bill Benfield said it gave government extreme sole power to spread 1080 and brodifacoum.
“Basically it’s government wanting to ram-rod anything about poison chemicals through.”
He said  the move diminished people’s right to protest at the use of these chemicals in the environment.
The move by government was to arrogantly effectively impose state control and was echoing the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s call for more 1080.
“To put things in true perspective, the PCE’s doctorate is in public policy, basically an administrator’s qualifications – not environmental,” said Bill Benfield.
Meanwhile  the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust (SHOT) reacted too calling the move by Minister for the environment Nick Smith as “blindly arrogant”. SHOT convenor Laurie Collins who had many years in the use of poisons among them the first trials in the late 1950s, with 1080 in the Caples Valley at Lake Wakatipu, warned that while 1080 received most publicity due to the aerial broadcasting over thousands of acres and was a potent poison, brodifacoum was even more dangerous.
“It should not be forgotten Nick Smith and his colleague Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry were guilty of topdressing the public’s lands with 1080. It’s public property they are mistreating. The public deserve the right to have a say,” he said.
He said hunters had first hand, long term experience of the mountains and bush.
“They know and understand the ecosystem and see the damage done by 1080 with birds like moreporks, keas, falcons and others annihilated,” said Laurie Collins. “Besides 1080 and brodifacoum are shockingly cruel poisons taking days and days to kill. No creature deserves that callous treatment.”
He said the case for 1080 was unsound, often backed by commissioned, paid biassed science.
Many countries ban 1080.

Freshwater Management – Is it a farce?

Freshwater Management – Is it a farce? Should we expect more from our Politicians??

The Governments recent water reform package raises many questions, but they mostly come back to the honesty and integrity of the politicians involved, most notably Nick Smith!

Why cause this confusion over the swimmable standard? He’s even managed to confuse the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Wright, who said the changes in water quality measurement were… “very confusing”. Is it that he thinks we the public are just stupid? Or is it that once you start down a track of misinforming and generally deceptive behaviour, that you become caught up in it and have to keep going in order to maintain those earlier myths you have propagated?

Plenty of others are commenting about the current water reform package, if you remain unsure about these checkout page A38 & A39 of the Clean Water doc to see the old and new standards side by side.

I want to draw attention to another of the misleading initiative that Nick Smith has been involved in which is the Canterbury Water Management Strategy which has been implemented by the Ecan Commissioners appointed by Nick Smith after he sacked the elected Council.

North Ashburton River rated as ‘good’ for swimming

Our local Ashburton Zone Committee is advertising for a new member to provide refreshment to the committee. Accordingly ‘The zone committees are made up of people with a passion for their local area and respect for their knowledge has become a firm principle of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. Allowing communities to guide our water management work gives local people genuine power. We listen to communities’ opinions and provide opportunities to discuss issues while exploring potential solutions together’

Reading through the list of current committee members I noted their interests as being mostly agricultural, irrigation or connect to such in some way, with a lone Forest and Bird member. I understand the Ashburton Council appointee is also a retired farmer.

So rather than community members the committee is made up predominantly of industry insiders who have a vested interest in water for industry purposes in the main;

Wondering how they manage to engage in the debate with so many conflicts of interest I continued to read down the page. It talks about conflict of interest: ‘Committee members must be careful that they maintain a clear separation between their personal interests and their duties as a Committee member etc etc

Still I wondered how some of these people could be involved – then right at the bottom of the page;

Usually the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968 would apply, requiring Committee members to declare any potential conflict of interest where they might personally benefit from a decision of the Committee.

However the Auditor General has issued a declaration that allows zone Committee members to discuss and vote on all matters related to the development of implementation programmes to achieve the targets and goals set out in the CWMS. This ruling has been made to allow members to take part in all discussions, in order that all the views and different perspectives of the members are part of balanced decision-making on any issue.

Members of Zone Committees have been appointed from various sectors to ensure a balance across all main stakeholder interests. It is likely that at times some members may have a personal interest in an issue before the Committee. The Auditor General’s declaration allows those members to take part in the discussion and vote on these issues, in order not to impede the work being done by the Committee and because the work is in the wider interests of the people of the area.

So what does all this mean? Like many others I was concerned that the CWMS is a farce – well the above is the proof of that – We have irrigation interests, dairy interests and Federated Farmers all involved and making the recommendations about what our districts water management needs are!! They have been given the freedom to do so by firstly being selected to the zone committees and then by having the normal conflict of interest safeguards removed, so the process has no integrity…

It’s no wonder the Selwyn River and its likes are so degraded…

And this brings us back to the point I want to make – are these the standards that we as New Zealanders are happy to accept from our politicians? Did we the people ever give Nick Smith the mandate to act in this way?

My answer is no, I don’t accept this, and nor do I believe we as New Zealanders should accept this. So I am calling for better standards, and I am calling out Nick Smith – he should resign immediately.

Monday, 27 February 2017, 10:34 am
Press Release: Future Rivers

Central and local government corruption

By Graham Carter

The National Party subverted democracy by sacking the elected ECAN Councillors and replaced them with Commissioners, to facilitate the grab for water and growth of industrialized dairying in Canterbury. They also made sure that minimal compliance work was done to enforce consent requirements and water takes etc. In Canterbury in 2016, there were 376 complaints to E-Can and zero prosecutions. Continue reading Central and local government corruption

Councils and farmers should cop the blame over water quality

By Graham Carter

Recent articles discussing our dying rivers and lakes, followed by a story about the dirty Selwyn River in North Canterbury and the news that a complaint against Greenpeace’s anti-dairying advertising was not upheld clearly point out the main offenders regarding our dirty rivers and streams.

The dairy industry through its various industry media releases have been bleating that it’s not just dairying which is quite correct, but they are the main offending group.

It must be very upsetting to dairying families to read and hear all this and feel the hatred directed at them. However while it’s good to blame the good ol farmer it’s not entirely their fault.

I believe that blame equally lies with our Regional Councils, Fertilizer companies and Fonterra. Continue reading Councils and farmers should cop the blame over water quality

Federation Says “Whoa” to Smith’s RMA Hurry

federation-says-whoa-to-smiths-rma-hurry

A dead trout in a dry Canterbury river bed – stark testimony to government’s folly.

by James Speedy

The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers has put a hand brake on Minister for the Environment Nick Smith’s wish to hurry changes to the Resource Management Act through. In a letter to the Christchurch-based “The Press” Nick Smith argued he was a not hurrying the proposed bill of changes through Parliament. But the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers was not impressed with the minister’s denials. Continue reading Federation Says “Whoa” to Smith’s RMA Hurry