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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Up the Pourakino

The Pourakino arm of the Jacobs River estuary at Riverton, is in a serious state of ill health. To all intensive purposes, it has died.
Nothing lives in there now, save some pollution-tolerant worms, because of the accumulated mud and the toxic sulphides that are produced by them. It stinks and ordinary estuarine creatures are killed by the gases the mud produces. The mud came from the land up-river. That's farmland. They contain high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus that create excessive growth of algae that add to the miserable state of the estuary.  Its black immediately below the surface.
Estuaries accumulate mud over time and under normal circumstances but this is different.  The loss of soil and silt as a result of land 'management' practices, especially from the use of tile drains, but including other farming practices like winter grazing that results in overland movement of mud, dung and fertilizer, and the practice of ploughing that exposes soil to the wind and rain, and results in soil entering the creeks and rivers and ultimately, the estuaries. Forestry too, with it's soil-exposing practices, contribute significantly to the problem. Nutrients lost from farming make the situation much worse, feeding as they do, the algae that cause the muds to accumulate faster than if they weren't present. Towns too, provide unneeded nutrients through a variety of leaking systems, especially sewerage. The Pourakino however, has no towns upstream, only farms.
I believe it's tragic.
And it's happening in the New River estuary at Invercargill. There, the Waihopai Arm has deteriorated at an even more alarming rate.
There's something very wrong with the way we are going about our business, when this sort of harm is visited upon the environment around us. The degradation of the Waituna lagoon was the most recent 'alarm bell' to go off in Southland, warning us of our fate. Now we have the ringing of two more. And theirs is a death knell.

56 comments:

wildcrafty said...

This is very sad. I have a question Robert. Given that there's been farming along the Pourakino for well over a hundred years, do you think that prior to the intensification in the past decade or so, the same process was happening, only so slowly we weren't really noticing? Or were the impacts from the previous kinds of farming something that the river could manage and still keep a kind of balance (albeit not an ideal one)?

robertguyton said...

All along the way, the farmers have drained their land by installing field tiles across their farms. Those tiles carry silt, soil, phosphates and nitrates in significant amounts, to the waterways. Enormous amounts would have been released from the beginning of land development in the Pourakino catchment til today. Those field tiles are still in place and being replaced regularly. There are other ways too, that those materials leave the farm and end up in the estuary. Intensification, in my opinion, makes things worse. 'Best practice' by farmers is laudable, but doesn't stop this effect, in my opinion. The field tiles are still there - there are farmers who don't follow best practice, there are weather events that over-ride best systems, and the estuary wears it all. The scientists who presented this to us yesterday highlighted the serious issue of nitrate and phosphorus and the role they play in speeding up the damage to estuaries by accelerating algal growth.
And it's not over simply because the problem has been described. What can be done about it? Any suggestions gratefully received.

Anonymous said...

Can you provide the independent evidence to back up these claims? In particular, evidence of a long term decline of the river and estuary. You have forgotten to mention the native bush that contributes to this catchment significantly. I guess it would be hard to find a catchment with a greater native bush prescence with no lake to act as a sump? My experience with this catchment is that the 'native creeks' feed a strong tea colour into the river. That brown water, it contains nutrients. Things like polyphenols and tannins that I understand slowly release nitrogen into the environment. I think they could settle in the estuary and build up as natural cycles can. Much of this process you call death, has been the birth of the plains and has been happening for millions of years. Well before humans or farmers came here.
I wonder how contaminated this river is before it leaves the native bush?
You have criticised others for emotive comments in the past. Now you have come out with this post, which in my view is emotive rubbish. How about you jot down some facts and figures rather than what could be considered as loose claims, so a useful dialogue can be formed.

Mr E

robertguyton said...

You'll recognise, Mr E, that this blog is a vessel for my opinions - that's no secret and the claim is emblazoned across the header, so not hard to miss.
The speed with which the estuaries have deteriorated is truly frightening. The evidence presented yesterday would shock you too, I suspect. The past three years have seen a sky-rocketing of harm to the Waihopai arm in particular, not a gradual and expected change, but an alarming and rapid deterioration. The science is available for you to view, on the ES website. Once you've looked at that, you might have a different opinion.
Your points around tannins and polyphenols are interesting and recognised, but don't explain the sudden and potentially catastrophic situation with both the Waihopai and Pourakino arms of our local estuaries.Wondering aloud how polluted a river might be as it leaves a patch of native forest is a rather 'light' thought, in my view, and seems nothing more than a attempt at distraction. Next, you'll be blaming waterfowl. Your glib description of estuaries becoming plains is puerile, in my opinion.

Joe W said...

"Trees cause pollution"

robertguyton said...

Thus spake the Morax.

Anonymous said...

It is as I expected. No facts or figures to present. Just an opinion, that wildcradty has exposed as lacking thoughtfulness. I noticed you didn't make any reference to his question of historical cycles. Nice side step. Such techniques remind me of Winston Peters. He is good at doing that too.
I find it interesting that whilst I was writing my comment another blogger was thinking similarly. Natural cycles make up part of the effect. Ignoring them completely, paints a picture of an anti farming campaigning in my opinion.

Before humans came to Southland sediments would build up, the river would shift and the cycle would start all again. In recent times we have built flood banks to protect the people and industry. Now our rivers carry all sediment down to the lowest point, either the sea or hollows such as estuaries. There they accumulate at a rate not previously seen.

That is not to say that farmers are not in part accountable. But the extent of accountability has not been determined and as such, I think, any accusations need to acknowledge this limitation. Doing so encourages farmer acceptance and participation. Something, that in my opinion, needs to be worked on by the council. I would like to think such a concept starts at the top, but I am wondering if these thoughts are falling on deaf ears?

Viv k said...

Robert it must be sickening for you to see the estuary in such a state. The decrease in water quality over the time that dairying has intensified suggests a link that must be followed up, but don't some folk get nasty and defensive when you bring it up. Keep up the good work. Kia kaha

robertguyton said...

Thanks, Viv. Yes, it fills me with despair seeing a system like the estuary collapse so quickly, right before my eyes. Fixing that particular problem is going to be next to impossible, I feel just now. The suggestion that the estuary has simply become farmland now, made by one of my fellow councillors, a farmer, was not the first time I've heard that idea expressed and I'm a little disappointed to hear Mr E cite it as a natural process here on my blog. It's a matter of scale and no estuary should choke and die as quickly as these have (seemingly) done.

wildcrafty said...

"Just an opinion, that wildcradty has exposed as lacking thoughtfulness. "

Err, no. I agree with Robert, and support him using his blog to express his dismay at the pollution and destruction of our natural environment, esp where its happening in his own back yard.

I don't take kindly to my words being misappropriated.

You don't seem to have even a basic understanding of the difference between a self-regulating ecosystem and an ecosystem that is artificially pushed beyond its limits to the point of collapse.

My question for Robert was simply whether he thought traditional farming would have eventually pushed the estuary to this state but over a longer period of time. He answered that. Like him I believe that traditional farming practices that don't mimic nature are degrading ecosystems. We've had a buffer of time, and now we've lost that.

robertguyton said...

Thank you for that, Wildcrafty.
Sometimes, the logical disconnects I witness make me despair almost as much as the physical degradation of the environment, given that the latter is the result of the former.

darkhorse said...

RG perhaps you blame the wrong party. The great majority of farmers are doing nothing that the regional council doesn't let them do.

The current state of the Aparima Waituna and New River Estuaries are the result of twenty years of ineffectual performance by the regulator not by the farmer - imagine what the $25 million the RC costs Southlanders each year could do if applied to better farm system and more farmer support - and more river side planting and fencing.

Maybe Brownie MacDonald was right for all of the wrong reasons. Your current regulatory issues are likely just another manifestation of a deeper organisational malaise which in the end arises from the governance level not form staff.

Rot starts from the top.

And you cant blame the dog or the sheep for the shepherd's incompetence.

robertguyton said...

Perhaps.That top-rot then ought to be gouged out, darkhorse, if it's the source of the problem.
It seems to me that embedded problems like tile drains are 'too deep' to be solved by either party. I contend that wet lands shouldn't be drained, yet farmers, councils, townships, almost everyone it seems, take it upon themselves to dry the place up. Now we are paying the price and that's having parts of our environment die. that sort of result signals to me that the whole approach is sick. There are those though, who promote a different approach to land management. Those few are usually castigated by the many.
You say " The great majority of farmers are doing nothing that the regional council doesn't let them do." and I wonder if that translates to "farmers only stop because they are told to" - it's a very disturbing thought.
You say:
" The current state of the Aparima Waituna and New River Estuaries are the result of twenty years of ineffectual performance by the regulator not by the farmer - imagine what the $25 million the RC costs Southlanders each year could do if applied to better farm system and more farmer support - and more river side planting and fencing." and that's an interesting and valid thought and having been a critic of what I considered poor responses from the then council in the past, I can't argue with that. However, with farmers being men-and-women-of-the-earth, and self-confessed environmentalists, how is it that they didn't apply these ideas systems to their own farms, of their own accord?
As for blaming the sheep or dog, I'm with you there. The verbal thrashing of staff is something I've never bought into, and nor have most councillors.

Anonymous said...

Obviously esturies are repositories of alluvial soils and muds , organic matter ,, it is part of the land building process and in fact is the foundation that invercargill now sits on

Should we be looking to blame someone for this or realise our inpact as human inhabitants is indeed insignificant when viewed through the lens of geological time

robertguyton said...

They are, Anonymous, it is and it is.
geological time though, is a scale that doesn't fit with what has happened in our estuaries over the past few short years. These aren't geological proccesses at work, this is the work on man and therefore the responsibility of man. We're destroying what would otherwise have been a biologically rich ecosystem, through our land (mis)management. Blaming 'nature' and 'time' and 'geology' won't wash it with me.
Our 'input' to this problem has not been 'insignificant' - it has been profoundly damaging.

wildcrafty said...

Robert, if the land was not to be drained (further), how do you see management of it? Is there a way to keep it productive in terms of human needs? (how would permaculture and other resiliency systems view this situation?). What other models are useful?

kia kaha e hoa. He whakahirahira tau mahi.

Anonymous said...

your a romantic robert.. i think you have a romantic notion of what an eastury is.. both Riverton and new river have been muddy puddles . both dark ,muddy. and obviously brackish as long as i can remember
I think we need to be careful we dont invent an ideal and then look for someone to blame when our construct was somewhat embellished

robertguyton said...

Tena koe, wildcrafty. Kia ora mo tena.
Human needs, you say? Milk, for powdering and selling to middle-class Asians? Needs?
Open to discussion, that.
As for ńot draining further, those drains are renewed at intervals, to improve that drainage. I cant see that changing. Permaculture, iun my view, falls short of what is needed, though has many valuable contributions to make. This needs collaboration between the farmers presently on the land, and people who view things very differently. God help us all, thatś going to take quite a jump.
Other useful models? There are many and all are needed. Do you know of Haikai Tane? His views on groundwater are the kind of ćhallenging view' needed now. A collapsed estuary ecosystem is a pretty loud siren.

robertguyton said...

Anonymous - what 'omantic ideal' do you believe I hold about estuaries? I've never expressed any. Are you a mind-reader or clairvoyant, perhaps.
I would say that an estuary should have be a healthy, resilient, biologically diverse ecosystem. What it should not be is smothered in silt and overloaded with nitrates and phosphorus, toxic to all but the most pollution-tolerant organisms.
Is that a romantic notion, do you think?

robertguyton said...

romantic

Anonymous said...

So estuaries never filled with silt until field drains came along then?

darkhorse said...

until relatively recently the southern estuaries all had sandy bottoms and clean water - ones such as the Waipatiki and to a reasonable extent the other catlins estuaries still do.

Mud comes from farms.

robertguyton said...

They did, over loooong periods of time. If we are speeding up the process, we need to sort out our behaviour in order that the estuary doesn't become a stinking wasteland before its time. Under normal circumstances, the river would find a new way to the sea, perhaps cutting through what is now someoneś farm - is that what you are promoting, Anonymous? Sacrificing productive farmland that supports your peers? How do you feel about the fishermen who were making their living from the flat-fishery that begins in the estuary? Don you care about the livelihoods of others? They have families too.

robertguyton said...

Or forestry operations, darkhorse, and the Pourakino has one of those too. Still, your point is well made. Natural state forests don't leak silt the way farmland does. You have suggestions to repair the damage already done to the Waihopai and Pourakino arms? (Aside from decapitation :-)

Anonymous said...

goodness me ... i wonder where the term " mud flats" came from then?
By the way i have swum in the riverton estuary a long time ago...
gentle men.. water runs from land to ocean.. u might not realise but sand is weathered parent rock material and comes from the land
Mud is same material but with organic matter attached . yes its wet soil if you like .

robertguyton said...

It's a post-farming expression.
I have imagined that the sand that makes up an estuary bed comes mainly from the sea, brought in by the tide, but correct me if I'm wrong. Failing that, it'd come from weathered rock, wouldn't it, from way up in the mountains, Takitimu in this case, down the Aparima and swirled around when it got to the main estuary. Not from farmland, I'm guessing. Mud is different. That won't be coming in on the tide, nor from the mountain tops.
What do you think, Anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Sand .............. weathered rock which has had the organic matter washed out of it ..
or from mountains where the climate and rainfall is so harsh there is nothing growing..

mud flats will turn to low land wet lands and marshes , then become elevated and a series of vegetation will grow over time till ultimately bush and forest will predominate .. leaf litter will form rudimentry soils ,
possibly growing in acidity over time .
i think its ok.
as long as no one is dumping toxic waste in there it will evolve.
I bid you a good night gentle men


wildcrafty said...

Yes I know Tane's work a bit, although not so much in a wet climate and I don't know what he would say about those farms up the Pourakino. But he thinks that we shouldn't be farming stock at all (which I disagree with), so that brings us back to human needs. One obvious one is the farmers already farming and what happens to their livelihoods, esp those farmers that have high debt (and who therefore face more challenges in changing practices). The other is how much land do we need to be farming to feed ourselves. Exporting milk powder to China is not a human need IMO. Being a bioregionalist, I was meaning the humans that live in that catchment.




wildcrafty said...

I think the whole mud is natural argument misses the crucial point: life in the estuary is dead/dying. Unless people want to make the argument that that too is natural (the death of the ecosystem).


btw, rivers within native bush ecosystems run with mud in big rains, so it's not entirely true to say that mud comes from farms alone. Surely we are talking about relative things like quantity, ratios, frequency, time, area?

robertguyton said...

Wildcrafty
I think the whole mud is natural argument misses the crucial point: life in the estuary is dead/dying. Unless people want to make the argument that that too is natural (the death of the ecosystem).
That's right. This "natural decline" argument is spurious, in my opinion. As darkhorse says, the beds of these estuaries were clean sand within memory here in Southland. There are photographs of pleasure bay that show why it carried that name. the sand was white!! People were swimming in the waters!!


btw, rivers within native bush ecosystems run with mud in big rains, so it's not entirely true to say that mud comes from farms alone.
Maybe, wildcrafty, but are they intact, fully functional forests, or grazed by deer, possums and rats perhaps? No one is saying that forests are perfect sinks, but coupled with wetlands, of which there were miriads here in Southland, the original state of the land did not shed soil like it does now. The process has accelerated to an unacceptable level and has become a serious issue.
Surely we are talking about relative things like quantity, ratios, frequency, time, area?
You are quite correct. We are also talking about human intervention, both in causing the problem and, hopefully, solving it. I don't feel positive about the latter, despite my natural inclination to optimism. As I keep saying, all suggestions gratefully received. So far, I hear some excuse-making and explaining-away (I don't mean fom you :-)

One obvious one is the farmers already farming and what happens to their livelihoods, esp those farmers that have high debt (and who therefore face more challenges in changing practices).
I suspect that nothing will happen to those farmers in the catchment, aside from the news of the state of the estuary forcing some thinking and discussion to occur, as it did in the Waituna. People like me, who want to talk about the problem publicaly, will get severely criticised (in private) and criticised in a more measured way, (in public), I suppose.
The other is how much land do we need to be farming to feed ourselves. Exporting milk powder to China is not a human need IMO.
There are other farming systems in the catchments of the New River and Jacob's River estuaries of course. In the case of New River, there are multiple catchments, towns, industries and a city. Poor estuary!
Being a bioregionalist, I was meaning the humans that live in that catchment.

Anonymous said...

" The original state of the land did not shed soil as it does today"

I think we are in danger of making assumptions based on nothing unless of course someone has a time machine ,?
However , while we do not have river deltas as such we do have river flats , that have a significant greater depth of soils than is found under native forest.
It is obvious when looking down on the landscape that there is obvious evidence of rainfall run off . gullys gorges etc etc numbering probably into the millions ,
the weight of weathered material and soils transported over time has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years .
This is a natural process.
In fact we are growing our weight of soils under animal agriculture .
The stability of soils will be better now than it was in the past because the amount of organic matter and therefore structure has improved .

Anonymous said...

I have to apologise to Wildcrafty 9.20am Nov 11. He or She (I dont know) has quite rightly pointed out that I rather inappropriately twisted a comment to suit may argument. Sorry about that.

In my opinion it is a bit like Robert creating some link between farming and estuary pollution. It is what I consider a cheeky extraoplation and becuase he has not backed it up with evidence, I will label it as a baseless claim.

Has there been more 'tile' draining in the area than historically? Not in my opinion? Have farmers increased their rate of nutrient use in this area? Not in my opinion. Have they changed their management practices so drastically in the last 3 years so to markely increase nutrient and sediment would move to the estuary? In my opinion, absolutely not. If anything farmers in this area have made big improvements into management practices that reduce sediment entering the waterways. New rules require this and farmers in this area have made a good job of abiding by these.

It is my opinion that Robert is trying to link a cause and effect that simply is not there.
Much of this catchment is covered by sheep farms and many sheep farmers reduced their stocking rates in 2009 after a drought caused baleage prices to sky rocket. So less stock, less nutrient requirement, less dung and urine.

I almost get the feeling that this is a Waituna debate all over again. And I am told that one of the main reasons Waituna had problems was stream bank collapse and that this had nothing to do with farmers. This blog feels like deja vu. Factless claims that in my opinion will turn out to be wrong and farmers being victimised.

By the way you can't wave your factless finger at tiles, they are hardly ever used now days (including last 3 years).

Mr E

robertguyton said...

Has there been more 'tile' draining in the area than historically? Not in my opinion?
It's a cumulatic effect, Mr E. Have those tile drains never been renewed in all these years, do you think? No laying of new plastic equivalents? I've seen it for myself, but perhaps I was dreaming.
Have farmers increased their rate of nutrient use in this area? Not in my opinion.
They will have continued to apply fertilizer over the years though, I'm betting. It may have left their place, but it's has to go somewhere. that somewhere could well be the estuary.
Have they changed their management practices so drastically in the last 3 years so to markely increase nutrient and sediment would move to the estuary? In my opinion, absolutely not.
That's not being suggested. I'm thinking there has been a tipping point reached and passed.
If anything farmers in this area have made big improvements into management practices that reduce sediment entering the waterways. New rules require this and farmers in this area have made a good job of abiding by these.
Good to see you citing rules in a positive way, Mr E>

It is my opinion that Robert is trying to link a cause and effect that simply is not there.
No responsibility can be sheeted to the farming of the catchment then, Mr E? As an aside, I recall standing talking with one of the sheep farmers of the catchment when I first settled in Riverton, as he dipped his sheep in a concrete 'dip' that was constructed right beside the Pourakino, into which he emptied the whole thing once the sheep had been through. I'm pretty certain he wasn't the only sheep farmer who dipped his sheep using that method, Mr E. Perhaps you know otherwise. That toxic soup would have made it's way down into the Pourakino arm. Perhaps it's still there, in trapped in the muds. There is, I have to add, a sawmill upstream as well and I know the mobile tanalising unit that used to deal with the treateatment of sawn timber there was not without its 'issues', so it's not only farmers who have contributed to the despoilation of the estuary. Plenty of poorly managed pig farms up there too, in the past. I have had direct experience with one of those and it's foul contribution to the creation of eutrophic muds in the estuary. Perhaps Mr E, you are beginning to sense my person despair at the news from the Wriggle scientists
Much of this catchment is covered by sheep farms and many sheep farmers reduced their stocking rates in 2009 after a drought caused baleage prices to sky rocket. So less stock, less nutrient requirement, less dung and urine.I recall that the stocking rates were pushed far too high at the direction of the then-governing party, National. Stocking rates in the Pourakino may well have reduced (well done those farmers!) but this sort of effect is accumulative

I almost get the feeling that this is a Waituna debate all over again. And I am told that one of the main reasons Waituna had problems was stream bank collapse and that this had nothing to do with farmers. This blog feels like deja vu. Factless claims that in my opinion will turn out to be wrong and farmers being victimised.
I'm talking about two examples of estuaries facing collapse here, Mr E - one has inputs from towns, farmland and a city, as I have already described (is that the deja vu you feel?), the other has only farmland, unless you consider that the Narrows is allowing material from the Aparima to enter (it might be). Your hypersensitivity about farmers culpability is causing you to focus only on them. It's not something I am doing.


By the way you can't wave your factless finger at tiles, they are hardly ever used now days (including last 3 years).
NovaFlow then, much the same thing. I was using 'tile drain to represent sub-soil drainage systems of all stripes.

Mr E

robertguyton said...

"The stability of soils will be better now than it was in the past because the amount of organic matter and therefore structure has improved"

I don't believe this at all. The flow of silt through subterranean drainage is, so far as I've been able to understand from the science provided, enormous and constant. Hoofed animals are helping to create soil, it is true, but the action of their hooves on that soil, especially during the winter,
is undoing some of that work.
You are determined to maintain that I'm attacking farmers here, Mr E, but that is simply not the case. I am discussing the points that are brought up here and by the report. I have great concerns about the creation and clearing of drains too. We know significant quantities of silt are released by this process. Inappropriate 'carving' in the soil, be it by a government agency, a farmer, an urban person or whoever, has repercussions and we are looking at some of those with this crisis in the estuaries.
You say, Mr E, that you fear we are looking at another Waituna, in terms of blaming farmers for the problem, so I have to assume that you believe that farming is not the key contributor to the problems there and that the enormous effort and expense that the Waituna catchment farmers have put in to alleviating the threat to the lagoon, has been wasted because it wasn't needed.
That's not my view.

Anonymous said...

two anonymi here obviously.

who ever has told u that subsurface drians are leading to siltation of estuaries and that these drains are regularly replaced doesnt seem to know what they are on about ,
drain cleaning ... you mean reclaiming soil and sediment that has accumulated in open drains .

im sorry but the big culprit
there is gravity.
lets look at waituna and take that as an example .. the significant areas of peat deposit underlayed with gravels occurred a long time ago.. water runs down hill , it carried sediment . organic matter etc etc along with it ...
this is not new but it obviously predates modern agriculture .. drainage , surface or subsurface ,

robertguyton said...


drain cleaning ... you mean reclaiming soil and sediment that has accumulated in open drains
reclaiming? Some is reclaimed, much is lost in the process. I have seen the graphs from the studies that have been commissioned to track the release of silt as a result of drain cleaning. You need to search those out, Anonymous - your 'effects from drain cleaning' beliefs are wrong.

im sorry but the big culprit
there is gravity.
lets look at waituna and take that as an example .. the significant areas of peat deposit underlayed with gravels occurred a long time ago.. water runs down hill , it carried sediment . organic matter etc etc along with it ...
this is not new but it obviously predates modern agriculture .. drainage , surface or subsurface ,
Sediment moves very, very quickly, Anonymous, when it reaches a tile or other subterranean drain - far more quickly than through peats and gravels naturally laid. I don't find your argument at all convincing. Nor does it address the nitrate and phosphate issue, so closely bound to the problems revealed recently.

Anonymous said...

you dont appear to have seen a drain cleaned out . or observed what comes out the end of a subsurface drain ?
thats the problem with consultants .... they dont actually need to know what they are on about .. all they have to do is know slightly more than those who have hired them
This is why mistakes are made .
We obviously disagree.
Sediment flow from drain cleaning would be insignificant

robertguyton said...

you dont appear to have seen a drain cleaned out .
I have seen up-close, drains being cleaned out, Anonymous. I have a question for you: You talk about "soil and sediment that has accumulated in open drains" - can you tell me where that soil and sediment came from? I'm guessing, the farm.If I'm right, it shows that farms do lose soil and sediment, at least to their own drains, yes?
or observed what comes out the end of a subsurface drain ?
I have read the reports and seen the figures that describe how much material comes out of subsurface drains. It amazes me that you seem to believe that they run clear.

thats the problem with consultants .... they dont actually need to know what they are on about .. all they have to do is know slightly more than those who have hired them
This is why mistakes are made .
We obviously disagree.
Sediment flow from drain cleaning would be insignificant.
We do indeed, disagree. If I find a report on this, I'll post it here.

robertguyton said...

That said, and so that we don't focus entirely on farm drainage as a culprit, there are other sources of silt that ends up in estuaries. How about land clearance, especially on sloping sites? Soil loss to creeks and rivers there can be appallingly high. have you seen what happens when brassicas are sown and grazed on sloping land where there are no vegetation buffers between paddock and stream? Even when there are buffers?

robertguyton said...

How about the results of 'spray and pray' programmes that misjudge the weather and end up as wash-off?

Anonymous said...

It's a cumulatic effect, Mr E. Have those tile drains never been renewed in all these years, do you think? No laying of new plastic equivalents? I've seen it for myself, but perhaps I was dreaming.

Cumulative effect. But hold on you are saying that the sediment has been accelerating in amount. Farmers have been replacing drains for years. It didnt just start in the last 3 years. And the rate of replacement is so small. Most drains will last 60 years plus. There has not be some sudden rush to replace drains. I believe the rate of replacement will be much much slower than the rate at which they were installed. Your effect (3 year increase or acceleration) does not pattern your so called cause.

They will have continued to apply fertilizer over the years though, I'm betting. It may have left their place, but it's has to go somewhere. that somewhere could well be the estuary.

You have painted a picture of accelerated pollution. But there has been no accelleration in fertiliser use, in this district, from what I have seen. Again your pollution pattern does not fit your so called cause.

That's not being suggested. I'm thinking there has been a tipping point reached and passed.

A tipping point that has sped up the rate of sediment deposits. Sounds like logic... Not.

Good to see you citing rules in a positive way, Mr E>

Strange to see you ignoring the impact of these rules. Have they had negligible effect? But I guess it doesnt suit your argument so is out?

No responsibility can be sheeted to the farming of the catchment then, Mr E?

You didn't read my earlier comment then?

As an aside, I recall standing talking with one of the sheep farmers of the catchment when I first settled in Riverton, as he dipped his sheep in a concrete 'dip' that was constructed right beside the Pourakino, into which he emptied the whole thing once the sheep had been through. I'm pretty certain he wasn't the only sheep farmer who dipped his sheep using that method, Mr E. Perhaps you know otherwise. That toxic soup would have made it's way down into the Pourakino arm. Perhaps it's still there, in trapped in the muds. There is, I have to add, a sawmill upstream as well and I know the mobile tanalising unit that used to deal with the treateatment of sawn timber there was not without its 'issues', so it's not only farmers who have contributed to the despoilation of the estuary. Plenty of poorly managed pig farms up there too, in the past. I have had direct experience with one of those and it's foul contribution to the creation of eutrophic muds in the estuary.

All historical claims, and I am guessing have nothing to do with the last 3 years? Assuming so, farm contributions to the problem must be decelerating and the recent problem is coming from somehwere else.
Interesting to see you making unpleasant claims about local businesses and voters. Good luck with that path.

Mr E

Anonymous said...


Perhaps Mr E, you are beginning to sense my person despair at the news from the Wriggle scientists

Your desperation is apparent from the dataless, factless claims you are making. I think it is easy to see. I don't know what a wriggle scientist is. One without qualification?

I recall that the stocking rates were pushed far too high at the direction of the then-governing party, National. Stocking rates in the Pourakino may well have reduced (well done those farmers!) but this sort of effect is accumulative

From one poor association to another. Markets were only paying $55-65 per lamb. Farmers needed more animals on farms producing more stock to survive. With dairying increasing in Southland sheep farmers have been encouraged to run at a more conservative stocking rate and sell excesses.

I'm talking about two examples of estuaries facing collapse here, Mr E - one has inputs from towns, farmland and a city, as I have already described (is that the deja vu you feel?), the other has only farmland, unless you consider that the Narrows is allowing material from the Aparima to enter (it might be). Your hypersensitivity about farmers culpability is causing you to focus only on them. It's not something I am doing.

Again you have forgotten about native forests, that play an important part role in sediment creation and loss. Forests go through cylces too you know... Or have you conviently ignored this?
Hypersensitivity? Really? I am not the one 'despairing'.


Mr E

Anonymous said...

This is the era of the modeler . the unexperienced expert.
the creator of reports , where one size fits all and one circumstance is and can be replicated far and wide .
When the dust settles and when yet another snake oil sales person gives their unexperienced opinion and believe it or not the rain will still fall from the sky,, gravity will still dictate that sediment migrates to the sea as it always has ...
we will be able to take satisfaction that we have made the politically correct noises .. millions will have been spent on compliance and nothing of consequence will haVE BEEN ACHIEVED.
. I wont go into the engineering complexities of drainage .. etc etc .. there obviously is no piont . save to add. the only "cumulative effect" that concerns me is one of inexperience and ignorance , Unfortunately thats a considerable threat to the environment

robertguyton said...

Not despairing at the potential devastation of two ecosystems, Mr E?
How blasé.
Here's some information about Wriggle - I was amused by you disparaging comments about them - anything you aren't familiar with s fair game, it seems:
"Wriggle is a small team of experienced, practical resource management scientists specialising in the assessment, monitoring, and management of coastal resources including estuaries, river plumes, rocky shores, beaches, duneland, harbours, coastal lagoons, and inshore waters."

http://www.wriggle.co.nz/

Regarding your attempting to pin the blame on the native forests, I think JoeW hit that for a six already.

robertguyton said...

Anonymous - silt and phosphorus doesn't accumulate in estuaries?
How counter-intuitive!
How counter-science!
These results are from scientific research and data gathering. I'm mearely mentioning their projections, sticking instead to to reporting what has already happened.
Calling the scientists from the coastal management company that did the research into the state of the estuaries 'snakeoil salesmen' says a lot about your own relationship with science, I believe.
Perhaps you'd like to cite your own sources, Anonymous (or are they to remain anonymous too :-)

wildcrafty said...

Robert, are the reports on the Pourakino and Waihopai online do you know? I had a look on the ES site and there is a report from last year for the Pourakino but not this year (or at least I couldn't find it).

Anonymous said...

Not despairing at the potential devastation of two ecosystems, Mr E?
How blasé.

Nice asking of question and answering it in the same sentence. Do you want the answer to the question? For all you know I could be distraught. Different from dispair and certainly not "blase".


Here's some information about Wriggle - I was amused by you disparaging comments about them - anything you aren't familiar with s fair game, it seems:
"Wriggle is a small team of experienced, practical resource management scientists specialising in the assessment, monitoring, and management of coastal resources including estuaries, river plumes, rocky shores, beaches, duneland, harbours, coastal lagoons, and inshore waters."

http://www.wriggle.co.nz/

Wriggle? I formed a question, not a disparaging comment Robert.
Thanks for your link.


Regarding your attempting to pin the blame on the native forests, I think JoeW hit that for a six already

He did???? The Reagan claim that trees cause more pollution than automobiles do? Is that evidence that forest systems don't lose nutrients to waterways? My goodness. Suddenly I am overwhelmed in confidence that you will seek sound solutions to the reported estuary problem.

The question Robert is "how much comes from the Native area?" Can you answer that?
I have never said that farmers are not contributors. Simply that their contribution is unknown, as is that from the forest. Therefore finger pointing tends to result in endless debates around factless opinions and that will, in my opinion, make only slow progress.

I do have some concepts of solutions. You may not be interested in them because they don't fit the framework of 'shoot first ask questions later'. They involve working with the people rather than an endless finger pointing excercise.


Mr E

robertguyton said...

Wildcrafty - they ought to be. I was told they would be posted on line as soon as the meeting finished (last week). I'll inquire and see if I can give them a hurry-along.

robertguyton said...

Mr E - are you distraught?
You sound dismissive, rather.

"Wriggle? I formed a question, not a disparaging comment Robert."
Oh really?

"I don't know what a wriggle scientist is. One without qualification?"

"Suddenly I am overwhelmed in confidence that you will seek sound solutions to the reported estuary problem."

How smarmy that sounds, Mr E! I have already 'sought sound solutions' by asking contributors here for their views, the Wriggle scientists for theirs, some of my fellow councillors, members of my estuary-care group, experienced farmers, recognised wetland experts and others for their opinions and projections. Still, if you prefer to denigrate my efforts, feel free. I'm not sure why you are taking that position though. You'll probably be aware that there are no councillors aside from myself engaing in public debate over this issue. I'm beginning to see why that is. I noted that the charge that councillors were "hiding behind closed doors" had been levelled at us, but not one farmer has said, "aside from Guyton, who seems to be the most willing of all of them to debate issues openly and in the public eye."
I maintain that a stable native forest system will be contributing very little silt, phosphorus and nitrate to estuaries at the foot of their catchment. I believe that farmland contributes damaging amounts of the same. I have described some of the ways that happens.
If you really believe I won't attend to your proposed solutions, Mr E, because they 'don't fit the framework of shoot first, ask questions later', then you'd be best advised to keep them to yourself, in my opinion.



Anonymous said...

Mr E - are you distraught?
You sound dismissive, rather.

At a report of increasing estuary pollution. I would say very distraught.

"Wriggle? I formed a question, not a disparaging comment Robert."
Oh really?

"I don't know what a wriggle scientist is. One without qualification?"

That was a frank question Robert. You have to admit Wriggle scientist sounds like wiggle scientist. I am not sure if you have seen the wiggles but they dont come across as scientists.

"Suddenly I am overwhelmed in confidence that you will seek sound solutions to the reported estuary problem."

It seemed appropriate given you dismissed my point by accepting Joe W's somewhat facetious link to Reagans policy. I apologise if it offended.
But to me the issue is very real. The water that comes out of many native creeks would stain your teeth brown in a very short time I reckon. Paticularly beech forestry. I have drunk enough of the stuff over the years to know. My friends would tell you it makes men extremely ugly too :)


Keep up the good fight.
E noho rā
Mr E

robertguyton said...

Fair enough, Mr E. I suspect Joe was flippant because he saw a farmer-advocate blaming the trees for a polluted estuary. Ya gotta admit it doesn't read well.
I'm trying to give your forests-are-polluters idea some credence, Mr E, but the idea seems a little thin, like the sols there that you or Anonymous described as themselves, thin. There isn't much soil under a natural native forest and to suggest that it gets washed away into the rivers seems a bit incongruous to me. Farms are loaded with soil and have extra P and N loaded on regularly. They have unnatural infrastructure (drains) installed for the purpose of removing water and soluble chemicals quickly and relentlessly. I know which 'system' I suspect is chiefly responsible.
You are welcome to convince me otherwise. Saying the tannins in water from forest streams is strong enough to stain teeth, isn't very convincing, I have to say.
I am interested to hear what you propose as a way forward to repairing the estuaries.

Anonymous said...

I have to say you have a curious but predictable debating style Robert .
you continually reinvent the argument . redefine your position and try to redefine the position of your respondents . to encourage them to respond to your moving feast , debate style .

unfortunatly that has nothing to do with facts but all about winning ,
The problem with that approach is it is best practiced if you have a closed mind?
You have not convinced me of the seriousness of your environmental view as it pertains to estuaries .
It appears that anything that provides opportunity for critcism of agriculture is embraced .
The question i aSK MYSELF IS ... do i want a vibrant and economicaly robust community.
or do i want to feel sand between my toes if i choose to wade out into the new river estuary or the Riverton estuary,
I guess it matters not that ive never seen anyone out in the new river estuary and almost 50 years ago since, alone, i tried to swim in the riverton estuary it was a very unpleasant experience .
If only i knew then, that the farming people out there who obviously payed tax so i could have a road to get to Riverton and funded my education. health. and everything else we enjoy in southland .. could have been lined up and told how my estuary experience had been a flop because of them.

I obviously got over my traumatic experience in the estuary. Successfully blocked it from my psyche and have had no mental problems thus far .

robertguyton said...

"You have not convinced me of the seriousness of your environmental view as it pertains to estuaries ."

I've been chairman of the Riverton Estuary Care Society Inc. for a decade now, Mr E. During that time, I've brokered the purchase of a 6-hectare wetland soon-to-be-pasture and overseen the creation of waterways for the whitebait that seek shelter from the open waters of the estuary. I've organised native tree-planting events with local school children around the edge of the estuary,I've organised seminars on estuaries, I've hosted gangs of clay-dam-building prisoners and blokes earning community-credits for misdemeanors, I've represented the group at wetland symposiums in Wellington and Christchurch, I've accepted national and regional awards for the work the group has done for the estuary, I personally engaged an internationally famous environmentalist as our patron, I've organised and helped run two successful Estuary Festivals to promote the values of the estuary, I've run across the estuary in the MudMan race organised by our society, I've paddled on it, sailed on it, swum in it and waded across its channels. I've dragged tyres, rusted chairs, truck sumps, hundreds of bottles, fadges of plastic and polystyrene, you name it, out of the rushes that grow beside the estuary, I've helped rid it of spartina and introduce broom psyllids to control the pest plants, I've cut gorse and barberry along the edges of the estuary and I've done interviews on several occasions with national television crews, newspaper reporters, journalists from magazines about the work we have done to protect and promote the estuary, and much more. However, I have been unable to convince you of the seriousness of my environmental view as it pertains to estuaries.
Never mind.
I'll just have to live with that disappointment.

robertguyton said...

Perhaps I ought to have addressed my rant to "Anonymous', rather than Mr E. Really, it's impossible to be sure who is who. My apologies if I chose wrongly.

Anonymous said...

you like estuaries
i like farms ,
i wont bother with a history of my commitment to agriculture

robertguyton said...

Estuaries don't threaten the health of farms.