As a an open water swim instructor and guide I would like to sing the praises of New Zealands clean green practices … but I can’t. Unfortunately New Zealand is excellent at watching the mistakes the rest of the world makes … and then copying them. My local river … too polluted to swim in. My local river flows into our largest catchment area river which Silver Fern Farms believes is a viable option for dumping waste http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/north-canterbury/9970873/Silver-Fern-Farms-dump-waste-in-river and http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/10029940/Works-filth-poured-in-river
In this next article (below) Patrick Smellie asks if New Zealanders should expect rivers and lakes to be swimmable as standard or if having only some bodies of water as swimmable is acceptable while allowing others to remain polluted to a level not suitable for swimming is OK for economic reasons. How do we really feel about having rivers measured as ‘swimmable’ or ‘wade-able’ ? Is it really acceptable to aim to have our waterways good enough for just ‘wading and boating’ or would we like to know that our dog can drink it without dying and we can dip our toes in on a hot day?
Want a snap shot of the future of New Zealand ? … Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup colour in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.
In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade.http://news.msn.com/us/lake-eries-algae-woes-began-building-a-decade-ago
But wait there is more … Scientists’ annual survey found an area of 5,052 square miles of “low oxygen water,” or hypoxia, off much of Louisiana’s coast and part of Texas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.
The zone is formed by nutrients that wash into the Gulf’s waters — largely agriculture fertilizer and wastewater coming down the Mississippi River. These boost algae blooms that suck up the oxygen in deep water, according to NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Clean water is already in scarce in many places in the world. New Zealand still does have some of the most fantastic swimmable and drinkable water sources in the world. However our tiny population has yet to put any of the pressures on our water resources as many have already in the big wide world. The mistakes out there are plentiful. The lessons learnt are widely available. If you like bottled water and being crowded in an indoor swim pool as your only swim option … continue doing what you’re doing. Am I scaremongering? I would like to be proved wrong; unfortunately I think time will show that I am not.