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WATER. What’s all the fuss about?

Why does BayBuzz devote half of this magazine to freshwater issues?

Because the environmental, recreational, cultural and economic values of Hawke’s Bay are totally intertwined in our rivers, and we are about to make hugely important decisions about them. Starting with the Tukituki, but extending to the rest of our rivers as well. Decisions whose impact will be felt for generations.

A half-billion dollar water storage scheme in the Tukituki catchment. Possible curtailing of sewage discharge into the Tuki. Two dams in the Ngaruroro catchment. A complete re-write of the ‘rules of the game’ governing water allocation for irrigation throughout the region. New standards for water quality and river flows. Fracking.

What we grow and produce in Hawke’s Bay, whether we restore our biodiversity and our acclaimed trout fisheries, whether we enhance our recreational opportunities, who will control and own our water infrastructure, how much we will spend to ensure ample and clean fresh water … all will be determined by decisions now working their way through the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

First up are huge decisions regarding management of the Tukituki. So we have focused on those. But understand the Tuki issues and you will understand what’s at stake with the rest as well.

We present a great deal of information and a wide range of views in the pages that follow. You’ll hear from environmentalists, farmers, Mãori, the Regional Council itself, advocates tilting for or against the schemes being proposed.

Thirty-four pages on freshwater! We don’t want to drown you. But you’ll see it’s not just BayBuzz who regards these issues as urgent. Virtually all of our political, business, farming and environmental leaders do, and they are already waist deep, pushing the decision-making this way or that.

However, these issues are too important to the future of the Bay’s environment and economy to be left to them. Any ‘solutions’ require a broad, informed public mandate. These are your rivers, carrying your water … and they should be managed according to your values.

Every two years, Lincoln University conducts a massive nationwide survey seeking to determine just what the values and attitudes of New Zealanders are with respect to freshwater and our rivers.

The latest survey reports that:

  • 60% strongly agree there should be no further significant pollution discharges into the water.
  • 60% agree more water should be left in rivers and streams for environmental and recreational reasons.
  • 52% say the #1 cause of damage to freshwater is farming.
  • 75% disagree (25% strongly) that in freshwater management decisions the main emphasis should be economic.
  • 64% agree that on their own, voluntary approaches by commercial water users do not protect the environment.
  • Finally, 82% agree regulations that are enforced are a good way to protect the environment.

I suspect a great many people in Hawke’s Bay share these views. In fact, I’ve challenged the Regional Council to conduct a professional benchmark survey in Hawke’s Bay asking exactly the questions as the credible Lincoln University study.

What you believe is critical. Because as you’ll see, much of the debate revolves around two critical areas – what ‘balances’ to strike between economic and environmental considerations, and the extent to which ‘best practices’ should be required of (not urged upon) farmers.

Form an opinion as you read our articles. Then express it!

2 Responses to “WATER. What’s all the fuss about?”

  1. Margaret Donnelly

    on May 17th, 2012 5:50 am

    I have been impressed with the coverage and editorial content of Baybuzz since its conception but none more so than this recent sixth edition.

    The concerns over the lowering water levels of the Tukituki River have long been witnessed by us all. And no where have I seen these concerns so well presented from so many different stand points. It is a shame that councils both Regional, Local, and Central appear to think that decisions relating to our resources and there use, can best be decided through employing consultants, who are brought into the region to advise and ultimately determine our futures. My experience is that most legislation and many by laws are produced on a cost benefit analysis aimed at reducing the council and other statutory bodies’ exposure to future claims of liability. The cost of covering their buts is born by the developer, the owner, the businessman and the tax payer. I think the most significant question highlighted in this debate is where will farming and industry be in 50 years? What resources will we need for economic growth? I think we all agree the rivers and the aquifer are under pressure now, what are the alternatives? What is sustainable? Who should protect our resources?

    Hawke’s Bay Today Monday 14th May article, Key urges beautiful HB TO LIFT EXPORTS. Identifies growing markets for milk and beef encouraging our businesses to “lift their economic footprint” not one mention of the effect on our environment and the well known problems associated with increasing herd sizes in drought prone regions. Where is Hawke’s Bay Today on this debate? Not one article have I read in this newspaper that investigates and is informative on these issues, especially the Regional Council’s proposed dam.

    I for one will be subscribing to BAYBUZZ at $8.00 an issue and I urge anyone interested in our future to do the same. This independent investigative journalism on local issues needs our support. Congratulations Tom and contributors.

    Margaret Donnelly

    Hastings

  2. David Pickett

    on June 5th, 2012 11:22 pm

    Some coverage of this is found in the Dominion Post contributed by a Hawkes Bay Today reporter. Latest report included the admission of a miscalculation by Tonkin/Taylor (Coastal Engineers) regarding gravel flows in their 'benchmark' consultantancy report to local body Councils. Will this make a difference to the momentum of going ahead with this dam? Shucks, no.

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