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Friday, January 11, 2013

Flooding fills Southland rivers with sh*t

I've locked horns/crossed swords with farmers before for suggesting that the brown stuff I see gushing underneath the bridge at Riverton and on out to sea, is farmland, mixed with dung. Those 'baseless' claims have been challenged by various apologists from the sector, who say it isn't so, that they are building soils and their practices are not affecting the quality of the water in our rivers. These latest high-rainfall events make a mockery of those claims, according to the report in today's Southland Times  titled "Faeces found in four river spots". The Aparima River at Thornbury, the Waikaia River at Waikaia are both described as "significant health risks" while the Mataura River at Gore and at Riversdale are potentially health risks.
What's causing this risk to Southlanders?
It's in the post title, in case you're in any doubt. Animal manure, washed off pasture by heavy rain and flooding.
A second report from Environment Southland hydrologist Chris Jenkins describes the sediment, nitrates and phosphorus that gets washed off the land and into the rivers whenever there is flooding.
"A flood could move more sediment in a handful of days than the norm over an entire year", he said.
Forested land, especially that covered in intact original forest, does not do this. Farming clearly results in degradation of the environment, there's no way around the fact.


JayWontdart said...

Its as clear as our pristine waterways Robert, tis the fault of those blardy GREENIES and their Vegan cohorts!

robertguyton said...

When the rivers run green, Jordan, who else would be responsible? I ask you???

darkhorse said...

The regional council is responsible RG - they are the regulator and their regulations are utterly inadequate.

Farmers are doing nothing that they aren't allowed to do via the regional plan. The most damaging activities are unregulated.

The RC could have regulated around land drainage and winter grazing and riparian management but it hasn't. It has had more than twenty years to get its act together and in that time it has cost the good citizens of southland some $400 million in running costs - what have they got in return? Filthy rivers.

Don't blame the cockies blame the twelve varyingly useless or ineffectual individuals sitting around the council table. All happy to take their pieces of silver while Southland's waterways and land resources degrade and none, yourself included, to say this is not good enough!

You and your fellow councillors are the guilty.

renetsil said...

Oh you always get such reactions from stating facts? It's enough to put anyone off but I know you are made of stronger stuff! Even I can understand that the trees would work very well as a filtering system.....I am vaguely remembering something about a carrot and a stick but I daresay that has been tried :(

robertguyton said...

Crikey, darkhorse, sounds like you've had enough of those useless seat-warmers!
Clearly, the system that's in place now allows for this to happen. You're confident that regulations would stem the flow of 'slops' off farmland and into the rivers, but I wonder how many of those farmers you absolve from blame, would support greater regulation of the sort you describe? Still, the council can hardly claim it has the problem beaten, so I'll agree with you and say, it's not enough! We need a more effective approach and we needed it years ago. When the council returns (once this 'dishonest-chairwoman' thing has been dealt with), I'll do what I'm able to pass your thoughts on to those involved in the management of the land.
Renetsil - darkhorse is talking 'stick' and that sort of talk can get you strung-up 'round these parts! Whatever happened to collaboration and education, I wonder? Seems that's a failed approach from the past as well.
It's not easy, being a trougher :-)

darkhorse said...

At least a trougher with manners and a conscience RG and a more restrained appetite than some of your fellows no doubt

but I stick with what I say

read the RMA

it is simple to fix - it is not farmers not complying with rules that are the problem RG - most seem quite happy to if the rules work -it is the complete lack of rules - 20 years of the RC beoing topo scared/uninterested in doing the job

imagine how many plants and fencelines would be alongside the rivers if the $400 million had just been spent on buying wetlands and planting trees

you could have bought every riverbank in southland by now

robertguyton said...

I'll take your concerns to the table, darkhorse. I've emailed you.

paulinem said...

Dark Horse lets get real here ..the RC or Es in our community can only do what the laws of this country allow them to do. When it comes to getting tough and penalizing the identifiable polluters whom are the cause of the water way problems.

Our present countries pollution laws are soft and woefully inadequate. The Keys Govt has been asked to implement into law hard pollution laws BUT REFUSE.

If hard pollution laws were introduced into law enforcement regulations such as RC can then using NZ laws ensure those identifiable as been responsible for polluting our environment will be punished for their unsociable pollution practices.

If they were being fined etc hard enough.. this would encourage them to see the sense to start behaving themselves and stop there unhealthy unsociable working practises which are harming our community.

Darkhorse under the present flaky no rules it means every one( in say the dairy industry for example) by association becomes seen as guilty of pollution etc. Now is this fair that all dairy farmers are seen as guilty ?

I personally don't believe this to be true and I am aware there are good and bad farmers.

In my opinon the bad pollution farms I suspect are the ones owned by overseas owners or under corporate ownership where profit is all that is relevant in production.

darkhorse said...

you are quite wrong paulinem

ES can write rules to address all of the issues arising from farming in southland - the RMA provides the RC with comprehensive powers to write regulations and enforce compliance without reference to government. There is nothing happening on southland farms and in southland rivers that ES could not address under the current law - if it had the will!

robertguyton said...

A 'One Plan', darkhorse?
Minister Carter would have something (acerbic) to say about that.
It seems too, that reliance on the RMA as a tool to create positive protection for the environment, is misplaced, given the plans this government has to 'adjust' that Act. There are complexities, many of them political, to saving Southland.

darkhorse said...

the biggest complexity is how to make the regional council do its job

have you ever read s30 RG?

Functions, powers, and duties of local authorities
30Functions of regional councils under this Act

(1)Every regional council shall have the following functions for the purpose of giving effect to this Act in its region:
(a)the establishment, implementation, and review of objectives, policies, and methods to achieve integrated management of the natural and physical resources of the region:
(b)the preparation of objectives and policies in relation to any actual or potential effects of the use, development, or protection of land which are of regional significance:
(c)the control of the use of land for the purpose of—
(i)soil conservation:
(ii)the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of water in water bodies and coastal water:
(iii)the maintenance of the quantity of water in water bodies and coastal water:
(iiia)the maintenance and enhancement of ecosystems in water bodies and coastal water:
(iv)the avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards:
(v)the prevention or mitigation of any adverse effects of the storage, use, disposal, or transportation of hazardous substances:

you guys are holding the can on this one!

robertguyton said...

"Every regional council shall have the following functions for the purpose of giving effect to this Act in its region:"

It's good to be reminded of this, darkhorse.
Functions that we shall have. And giving effect to the Act.
I'm focusing.

darkhorse said...

and being afraid of minster carters response is lame in the extreme and makes you as bad as him!

A negative reaction from that reactionary (who hasn't been right about much of anything much at all lately - along with most of his fellows) is confirmation that you are likely to be doing the right thing.

robertguyton said...

Not afraid, darkhorse, nor even cautious. You sure know how to insult a treehugger though! Your last point is a salient one.

darkhorse said...

being salient is a personal failing


KV said...

You state in your blog that farming clearly results in degradation of the environment and that the potential health risks are caused by ‘ Animal manure, washed off pasture by heavy rain and flooding.’
You imply that farmers are responsible for this environmental pollution and that farmers who are in business and also the industry as a whole are unwilling to take responsibility for this.
I would question if farmers and their animals are the only cause of pollution in our waterways. Bruce Wills from Federated Farmers said ‘dairying is getting the lion's share of the blame, but there's a whole lot of other factors contributing to pollution of waterways, such as town sewerage systems.’ Climate change can also exacerbate environmental issues with the change in weather patterns and the increase in unusual weather incidences ‘ high unexpected rainfall’.

KV said...

I don’t agree with your opinion that farmers are unwilling to take responsibility for environmental pollution, I believe that the vast majority of farmers in business are more aware now than ever before about their environmental footprint and that they strive to correct the legacy from previous generations and to balance the environmental considerations with the economic considerations of their business. Farmers are aware that to be a sustainable industry for future generations to come, environmental degradation due to washed off pastures and the like must be effectively managed so any effect due to the intensification of farming is minimized. AgResearch Ltd (New Zealand's largest Crown Research Institute) believes that new technologies will allow New Zealand farmers to double their output by 2020, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and other detrimental environmental impacts associated with farming practices.
I regard that the farming industry as a whole do consider their businesses have a social responsibility to minimize the environmental impact of their business and and they respect both the extrinsic value ( the value of the environment derived solely from its value for us) and the intrinsic value (the environment is valuable in its own right, aside from its value for us) . An ecological ethic supports claims that the welfare of land & animals (nonhumans) is valuable and that as humans we have a duty to respect and preserve it. If farmers and for that matter the human race do not respect and sustain the natural environment this will have dire consequences for not only farmers but the human race now and in the future.

KV said...

The farming industry is spending a lot of time and money on researching better practices for farmers and Federated Farmers has admitted ‘New Zealand's growing dairy herd is posing problems for the environment but says farmers are doing something about it.’ One way farmers choose to test out their practices with regard to environmental impact is since 1993 they have had the opportunity to participate in industry run awards such as Ballance Farm Environment Awards. One of the key objectives of the awards is to display to farmers that profitability need not compromise environmental values. Some of the benefits from taking part in the awards is the opportunity to link sustainable farming practices to long-term profitability and also to confirm that farmers current farm management practices are actually sustainable.
We need to consider what the role of the farming business is in society. The ethicist Friedman theory of ‘profit maximization’ is that the sole role of business in society is to maximize profits while remaining within the law, farmers could therefore argue that as long as they are complying with current laws and regulations concerning the environment they are acting responsibily by farming in a manner that will increase profit for the shareholders. It is therefore national and local government policy and industry standards that need to be created and tightened to regulate run off into streams.
Farming businesses are increasingly being made responsible in monetary terms for pollution and environmental impact to the land through not only regulation by the government but also social pressure on the farming industry and government- examples of these is The Ministry for the Environment expansion of farm plans. Since the early 1990’s, these farm plans have expanded to address a range of farm improvements in addition to soil conservation (e.g. water quality, waste, biodiversity, animal welfare, riparian zones, etc) and also the Resource Management Act 1991. I suggest it is in the farmers best interest to consider environmental practices in their business if for nothing else but to minimize the cost to their business.

KV said...

Farming businesses are by the majority socially responsible for the environment, they want their farms and businesses to be successful now and also to be available to pass down to the next generations in the same environmentally sound state if not better than previous generations have passed down to them. This has been proved by the increased amount of protection and plantings of the waterways, the protection of native bush on farms and the increasing organic farming fraternity. The government and local government do have an important responsibility and role to play in continuing to monitor the industry and to regulate where necessary. Farmers will continue to improve their practices through research into sustainable practices carried out by Federated Farmers, Ag Research Ltd and the like.
Farming businesses in New Zealand have been around since 1846 and have been and continue to be a dominant player in the economic stability of our country. They are also an important food provider to the global community now and in the future. Farming is very important to New Zealand both to the economic growth and wealth of our country and also how it affects our ‘branding’ in the eyes of the world – who could argue that farmers have a vested interest in the sustainability of our environment and that they will continue to strive to do things better in the preservation of our environment if for no other reason than sustained profitability of their business.
Agriculture in New Zealand - Wikipedia, Retrieved January 27, 2012, from
BALLANCE FARM ENVIRONMENT AWARDS Retrieved January 27, 2012, from
Dairy Farming Industry & Milk Production History NZ | DCANZ Retrieved January 27, 2012, from
Farmers admit role in river pollution TVNZ News Retrieved January 10, 2012, from
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. (2009). Module Three. 71203 Business ethics. Lower Hutt, NZ: Author.
Review of New Zealand Environmental Farm Plans Ministry for the Environment Retrieved January 10, 2012, from

robertguyton said...

KV said: "You imply that farmers are responsible for this environmental pollution and that farmers who are in business and also the industry as a whole are unwilling to take responsibility for this."
Hmmm...that's not true, KV. I usually fing that when people say, "You imply" they're really wanting to impose their interpretation on the issue, rather than thinking about what was in fact said.
Farmers are making many positive steps toward managing many issues to do with water pollution, but this 'wash down in heavy rain' has most throwing their hands in the air and saying, "you can't control the weather, therefore we are free of blame!"

robertguyton said...

"AgResearch Ltd (New Zealand's largest Crown Research Institute) believes that new technologies will allow New Zealand farmers to double their output by 2020, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and other detrimental environmental impacts associated with farming practices.
I regard that the farming industry as a whole do consider their businesses have a social responsibility to minimize the environmental impact of their business"

Were you thinking nitrate-inhibitors here? DCDs represent and aspect of the 'scientific approach to managing pollution from farms' that has unseen vulnerabilities, as we have seen recently.

robertguyton said...

" and the increasing organic farming fraternity."

Oh yes? Can you cite examples of support for organic farming from the Federation or from the Government?
I wait with baited breath.

robertguyton said...