A Labour poster circulating on social media quotes Andrew Little saying: When I was a kid I used to be able to swim in any river and drink from it.
Is that really true?
When I was a kid the freezing works at Pukeuri had to build a huge tank to chlorinate water because the water from the Waitaki River, which supplied Oamaru, several smaller towns and many farms, was not of a high enough standard to wash export meat.
That was well before wide spread irrigation and intensive farming.
Many rivers should be cleaner than they are now and improving water standards where possible should be a priority.
But not all water degradation is the fault of people and farming.
Some rivers never were clean enough to safely drink from and swim in and it would be impossible to get all of them to that standard.
I question Little’s claim of how clean every river was when he was a kid and I know that the goal of having every river swimmable and drinkable will never be attained.