'Mistaken' opinions on water

Letter of the Day

BASIL CHAMBERLAIN
Last updated 07:16 14/02/2013

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OPINION: Eugenie Sage (Letters, Feb 11) continues to be mistaken in her comments on the Waitara River.

The Taranaki Regional Council was not silent on bacterial counts (E.coli) in the river. Information was supplied to the Taranaki Daily News, which chose not to publish it. Nevertheless, the information is available, on a seasonal basis, from the council's own website.

Over summer, freshwater samples are taken from the Waitara River (by the town wharf) as part of the council's recreational water monitoring programme. In the past two years, no sample has exceeded the Ministry for the Environment action guideline.

It is actually the ministry that classifies the river as ''very poor''. Ms Sage fails to understand that the ministry's classifications (quoted) are based mostly on the hypothetical risk from surrounding land use, rather than reflecting actual monitoring results. The council's view is based solely on what it finds in the water.

Regarding the disposal of dairy effluent, it is simplistic and naive to suggest that there should be one uniform approach across the variety of physical, topographic and climatic conditions that exist in New Zealand. The council focuses on achieving the best outcomes with cost-effective approaches.

Nevertheless, Ms Sage is wrong to claim that Taranaki is the only North Island region to routinely allow the discharge of treated effluent into waterways. This occurs in other regions, notably Northland.

Ms Sage may think that Taranaki's progress with riparian management is too slow; the council notes that this year, we expect that more than half a million native plants will be planted alongside the region's waterways. Does Ms Sage know of a bigger voluntary environmental enhancement project in New Zealand?

BASIL CHAMBERLAIN

Chief executive, TRC

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