Gore District Council seeks more information on herbicide

The Gore District Council is seeking more information about an application by the Ministry of Primary Industries to use aquatic herbicide Endothall in Southland.

The ministry earlier this year sought resource consent for a 30-year approval to use Endothall to eradicate aquatic pests Hydrilla, Lagarosiphon and Hornwort, should they become a problem in Southland's waters.

The 30-year time frame is in place so that in cases where action against pests is required, the ministry can act immediately rather than wait for a resource consent application to go through.

However, at a meeting last week, Gore District councillors said they required more information about the herbicide before they could support the consent.

In a submission to Environment Southland, planning consultant Keith Hovell, on behalf of the Gore District Council, outlined concerns about the herbicide's toxicity, and asked what measures would be in place should it get into municipal water supplies.

The council is also seeking further information about the potential side effects of the herbicide on the health of people who consume water that has been sprayed.

The council submission notes that areas sprayed with the herbicide would be closed to the public, with spraying taking place during school hours to minimise public risk. Councillor Martin Redhead said this kind of talk made him very nervous.

Environment Southland consents officer Jessica Crawford said the council's concerns were valid but measures could be taken to minimise risk.

"The likelihood is that these weeds don't grow in fast-flowing water. The drinking water they take is from the main flow," she said.

Environment Southland is still considering the application.

Public consultation on the issue closed on December 7.

The Southland Times