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.