Last Friday was a jumbled day at the Regional Council, juxtaposing two public-excluded briefings on the dam with two public…
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!