Doggy-do bins to be installed

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 09:20 02/07/2014

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More signs and bins with bags for dog faeces will be put up along the Taylor River reserve, the Marlborough District Council has decided.

The council backtracked last week over a report that suggested Blenheim people would have to make a choice between dogs using the Taylor River Reserve or being able to swim in the river.

The suggestion was in a report about last summer's recreational water survey, which said that though the water quality in most waterways around Marlborough was improving, the Taylor River remained one of the most contaminated waterways in Marlborough.

Analysis of faecal contamination in the river showed it was mainly from dogs and wildfowl, the report said.

"It appears that there is a potential conflict between the use of the Taylor River for swimming, on one hand, and as a dog exercise and duck-feeding area on the other.

"A decision as to which of the uses are of greater importance may have to be made by the residents of Blenheim."

Environment committee chairman Peter Jerram told last week's full council meeting that the suggestion was incorrect.

It was not "a true reflection" of the situation in the Taylor River, he said.

Although there were dog faecal coliforms, there were also faeces from ducks and bovines.

"It's a pretty long bow to draw that into an either dogs or humans situation."

Jerram, a former veterinarian, said that, unlike cattle, dogs "don't crap in water, they do on dry land".

The pollution was more likely to be wildfowl, he said.

"And I don't think anyone is suggesting we shoot all the wildfowl in the Taylor River," Jerram said.

Rather, the council needed to educate walkers with dogs.

He proposed installing more dog bag holders and more signs to encourage people to pick up after their pets.

This was endorsed by other councillors, and reserves staff were to install them shortly.

The council's recreational water quality report said that testing over last summer showed improvement at most sites, particularly at the Picton foreshore and Rai River test sites.

Picton had improved because of maintenance work done on the sewerage system, stopping sewer pipes leaking into stormwater, and the Rai River improvements reflected upgrades dairy farmers had made on their farms.

However, the study showed the Taylor River remained one of the most contaminated waterways in Marlborough.

"Except for the Taylor River at riverside, unsafe faecal bacteria concentrations were generally associated with rainfall or flood events."

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- The Marlborough Express

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