The Green Party’s goal to have all rivers swimable is emotionally appealing but one which will be thwarted by nature.
Some rivers will never be safe for swimming, not as a result of pollution by people or animals but by nature.
Natural pollutants include volcanoes, birds, native and introduced species, and, at least temporarily, storms.
There are however, lots of waterways that should and could be cleaner but the Greens’ every-river-swimmable stunt has already got offside it with farmers the party claims it wants to work with.
Wairarapa Federated Farmers president Jamie Falloon wasn’t impressed with the Greens’ approach – he says the Ruamahanga is perfectly swimmable.
“We’re really disappointed the Greens have picked the Ruamahanga to promote their political statements about swimmability versus wadeability.”
He says the only reason the river has a poor bill of health is the sewage plant upstream, because farmers have fenced off all waterways in the Ruamahanga catchment that are more than a metre wide and permanently flowing.
Mr Falloon says anyone who thinks dairy intensification needs to be reduced must simply dislike farmers, who are unwilling to work with the Greens after their “political stunt”.
“Not when they use language like ‘the tragic state of the river’ and political stunts like getting schoolchildren to wade into the river in the middle of winter.”
It’s also irresponsible to go wading in the river when it’s in high flow due to rain, Mr Falloon says. . .
Emotion beats facts in politics and stunts get publicity but cleaning up waterways requires a co-operative approach and the Greens can’t even get Labour enthusiastic, in spite of their memorandum of understanding.
Labour leader Andrew Little says cleaning up the rivers wouldn’t be a priority for a Labour-led Government. . .
Improvements in water quality are already being achieved by co-operative efforts from central and local government, communities, farmers and other businesses.
More needs to be done. That requires more co-operation which won’t be achieved if major players like farmers and a political ally aren’t on-side.