Don’t swim in the rivers!

This article was originally written for and published by Salient, Issue 4 2016

Choose Clean Water NZ (CCW), a group demanding tougher legislation to ensure the quality of freshwater, are urging New Zealanders to stand behind them as they present a petition to parliament on March 29.

CCW have been touring the country to gain signatures, and shine a light on New Zealand’s freshwater crisis.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 12.18.50 AMWith 60% of rivers not meeting the health standards for swimming, CCW have said, “as it stands in current law, our rivers and lakes are allowed to pose ‘moderate risk’ of infection when people are wading or boating in them [secondary contact, as opposed to primary contact—swimming].”

They want the Government to take measurements to allow current and future generations to be able to swim confidently in freshwater systems, without fear of things such as giardia and skin infection.

CCW expressed great concern with the current water quality and standards, telling Salient, “we see waterways everywhere being treated in law and in practice as dirty drains.”

Environment Minister Nick Smith said of the issue, “I do not think a legal requirement for every water body in New Zealand to be swimmable is practical […] Those looking for instant solutions are going to be disappointed […] we need to be looking for progressive gains.”

Labour party Spokesperson for the Environment and Water, David Parker disagreed with Smith and told Salient, “we have weak district plans and a weak national policy statement.”

Parker said “the most important river is the one closest to you. The river closest to you should be swimmable. If this happened for each of us, every river in New Zealand would be swimmable, like it should be.”

At the time of print CCW’s petition had received 10,600 signatures. They are hoping to reach 15,000 signatures by March 29.

-Siobhan O’Connor


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