Water Quality in New Zealand | The Jackal

10 May 2011

Water Quality in New Zealand

One would expect good water quality in New Zealand, being that we’re a developed nation, we should expect safe and drinkable water. Unfortunately our “clean and green image” is not real when it comes to our water, a fact that the National Government would prefer you didn't realise. There's no question that our Lakes and River’s are highly polluted, but our tap water is often unfit to drink as well.

Just how contaminated is your drinking water? Find out about the quality of your water supply here. Figure out what your grading means here.

Please note a clear contrast between water qualities in low decile areas with unsafe drinking water compared to more prosperous areas with safer drinking water. You might also notice that many areas with large populations (over 500 as stipulated to require testing) are untested and therefore receive a U grading. We can assume that these areas have unsafe drinking water. This can mean contamination from bacteria, faecal matter, protozoa (Giardia and Cryptosporidium) and chemical substances. All of which have a detrimental effect on peoples health.

Recently, the National Government undertook a PR campaign to try and make people believe New Zealand does not have a serious problem in regards to our water resources. They released a National Policy Statement on fresh water (PDF) that gives Regional Councils twenty years to set some goals to improve water quality, which is hardly a solution to a pressing and major problem.
Instead of ensuring fines for polluters are properly implemented, National plan to impose sanctions on those that fail to perform in further intensification. The truth behind Nationals claims to safeguard our environment are clearly being utilized to further industrialize and pollute. National display a scant regard for our water quality and the effects unsafe drinking water has on peoples health. With 43% of NZ waters now unsafe to bathe in, something has to be done. Unfortunately the National Government are doing nothing apart from undertaking a propaganda campaign to try and look environmentally conscious. 

In recent years water pollution has increased with higher stocking rates and an increased use of fertilizers. National does not address this and instead gives the Farmers a tax payer funded $35 million subsidy for more irrigation that will increase run off and pollution. The irrigation fund will be included in this year's Budget and could be expanded by up to $400m. This means that our River's and Lakes that are already extremely polluted from unsustainable farming practices will become worse.

There is no mention about the extensive pollution from Pulp and Paper mills that contribute an estimated 10,060,000 Tonnes of waste discharged yearly. The National Government remain in denial, prefering to reside in rhetoric and untruths as seen in this BBC interview with John Key.

Despite the facts concerning New Zealands water resources, David Carter is blinded by a possible $4 Billion increase the tax payer funded scheme might have on our export earnings. This will come at the price of our clean and green image, which seems irrelevant in context to the amount of pollution going into our water ways.