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William Rolleston challenges the many claims that point the finger of blame for the Havelock North water contamination and system failure; calls for science-based evidence gathering

William Rolleston challenges the many claims that point the finger of blame for the Havelock North water contamination and system failure; calls for science-based evidence gathering

Content supplied by Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers urges the public to apply some good old-fashioned common sense and scrutinise the statements of activists as they push their anti-farming agendas in the wake of the Havelock North water-borne gastrointestinal disease outbreak.

Top of the list would be Dr Mike Joy’s statements on The Nation last Sunday where he said:

"’Central and local government had allowed massive intensification [of dairying] that had caused the problem’ when in fact the closest dairy farm we can find is some 40 kilometres away", Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says.

Or his statement that "animals have to come out of agriculture".

The sanity of this statement for New Zealand can stand on its own merits.

In the context of this bacterial episode he said that ‘over time you find it deeper and deeper and deeper [in the groundwater]’ when it is known that as water penetrates the ground, bacteria are progressively filtered out and their survival diminishes.

Greenpeace have waded in with a rant about the Ruataniwha dam and the evils of water storage, but didn’t mention Timaru in South Canterbury derives a significant percentage of its town water supply from the successful Opuha Dam.

Others have used the episode to have a go at Overseer, claiming councils are relying on it to manage bacterial risk, when the computer programme models the flow of nutrients in the root zone of soil, not bacterial flow into underground aquifers.

Photographs in the media this week of beef cattle standing in the Tukituki river failed to mention the site was downstream from the Havelock North bores.

"Unless the theory of gravity has changed this is unlikely to be the source. It is worth noting that Waipukurau’s treated sewage water outflow is in the catchment above the bores but this somehow doesn’t fit the activist agenda," Dr Rolleston says.

There is no question that animals and birds, both wild and on farm, create an opportunity for pathogens in the environment. So do humans for that matter.

Councils have a responsibility to assess and mitigate credible risks which exist in the environment when it comes to drinking water.

There has been a systems failure and 4,000 people got sick.

"The only way to re-establish confidence in the Havelock North water supply is with good factual, science-based evidence gathering. That’s what the councils, the Ministry of Health and the local community are trying to do.

"Distracting rants about building dams, wandering stock and activist theories do nothing to fix the system faster," Dr Rolleston says.

William Rolleston is the President of Federated Farmers.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


What an idiot. He wants us to apply common sense! Common sense is an excuse to ignore science and instead rely of personal bias, anecdotal observations, cultural preferences, personal morals and so on. The evidence is in abundance.....intensification is destroying our fresh water supply's and along with It our 100% pure brand.

Rubbish - the debate is about the gastro in Hawkes bay and there is no evidence that it is dairy farming. Its just a big beat up in the media like much "news" these days. I certainly agree that intensification can and has mpacted rivers and water but much is being done to improve matters. Farmers are working hard to decrease the impact. What is required is rational analysis, regulation and some credit to farmers for what they are doing to improve matters.

no evidence? I understood it was E.coli from cattle probably.

I thought the people were sick from campylobacter.

Quite right, Bring back Bruce Wills, the last Fed president who was not anti science and yes he is a farmer . He displayed the intelligence that is required to walk the tight rope of being pro-farming but not anti-science.

can your contributors to this site have some respect , the above comment is unacceptable

What this govt is promoting re farimng intensification and the destruction of NZ is what I find unacceptable. And seeing industry promoted experts wheeled out in support of this environmental vandalism even more unacceptable. You need to open your eyes and look at the destruction this govt is promoting against our lands. Criminal.

The only questionable part of that is the first sentence, otherwise the commenter is bang on, and even the writer of the article knows that much intensification of agriculture will only ever lead to contaminated waterways. Pretending it isn't so, is not an argument. NZ is foolish going down that track and would have been better to have embraced organic techniques, given the huge demand around the world for it, that has made the commodities market look like a $2 shop

If you look at the state of our rivers, from the councils own report, it's damming. Feedlots with run of straight into the river. I am not surprised people get angry when they get brushed off as fools.

the ecoli figures from the State of Environment report?

(From 2009-2013)

Seven sites measured (Waipawa at SH50, Makaretu at SH50, Tukituki at SH50, Papanui Stream, Waipawa at SH2, Porangahau Stream and Mangatarata Stream) did not meet the minimum acceptable state for full immersion activities, which means they are fit only for secondary contact, or wadeable.

Six sites showed significant deteriorating trends in E. coli numbers: the Mangaonuku Stream (21% annual average increase), Tukituki River 50m U/S oxi pond (61% annual average increase), Tukituki at SH2 (46% annual average increase), Tukituki River at Tapairu Rd (40% annual increase), Waipawa at SH2 (50% annual increase) and the Waipawa U/S Tukituki River (49% annual increase).

Item 10 here but not in Glossy report

Ironic that your local council CHBDC has had so much trouble with its sewerage system and that has affected the Tukituki but ultimately HDC has to deal with what is and treat their water if they have to.They might wish it otherwise but HDC cannot rely on HBRC and CHBDC to keep their drinking water clean.

This contamination is bovine sourced,as far as I know local sewage schemes are much improved.
The rivers wading only. HBRC is the regulatory body in charge water quality is declining, they should have acted.

Waipawa Declined 50 % and that's above the Waipawa sewage outlet

Not sure where you are living now but there was an initial finger-pointing at the overflows from the Waipawa sewerage scheme. As you say the contamination was almost certainly ruminant. But the point is that, regardless of the deficiencies of regional council regulation, the water scheme operator has to do the job.

With respect rastus i think that pastoral agricultural production in NZ is dropping due to drought and poor prices and profitability. What is growing is population and housing requiring a rethink of infrastructure.

Ooh, this Rolleston fella's a sensitive one isn't he? If you're going to be King of the Feds, you can expect a few well aimed bullets.
Where does one start to address this one eyed view of the world.
At no stage have I read any media outlet linking the photos of "beef" cattle in the Tukituki to the contamination of the Havelock bores. But if the good doctor cares, I'll happily take him to sites upstream where he'll be able to view cattle in abundance doing what comes naturally in the Tukituki. By the way, I'm no expert but I'm not aware of the difference between the excrement of beef cattle from that of dairy cattle. What is interesting is the King of the Feds desire to differentiate between dairy and beef. No mistake, I'm sure.
If Doc Rolleston was serious about addressing the debacle affecting the good citizens of Havelock North, he might do well to comment on the breathtaking incompetence displayed firstly by the Chair of The Hawkes Bay Regional Council on Checkpoint during the week followed by further damaging comments by the acting Chief Exec of the HBRC on the same programme on the following night.
That these characters represent the organisation that is charged with responsibility for water management in the Hawkes Bay is almost Pythonesque.
Yes, Doc, I'm a National radio listener. Do you have a problem with that as well?

There's been cattle and sheep been farmed upstream on the Tukituki for many years, no one has got ill from drinking Havelock North water in the past, so what's different about this year? Average temperature?, very low rainfall? waterlevels in the aquifer?
Does the regional council correlate water quality with rainfall? How do you compare water quality between different years with different levels of rainfall?

The Papanui suddenly became a dead stream two years ago. A dog died below where it enters the Tuki Tuki in January. The cattle waste is around 27kg a day. Took a few years for ground water to become contaminated, the water quality in a fresh is horrific.
Today there are many new feedlots on the river most set up in the last few years. NPSFM requires council to maintain or improve water quality, it's binding. I would think someone in HBRC could be charged after deaths.

Lots of large feedlots, unconsented, dumping thousands of tons of shit into the low lying light gravels along the river and Papanui stream. Been going for years destroying ecosystem along the way. In an effort to stop it we are all going to be in the gun.

I guess someone needs to get some video of these feedlots Aj. Taking industrial production to rural areas in expectation of not having to deal with the inconvenient outputs of effluent needs to be stopped.

Aj the HBRC Plan chapter 6 covers effluent from feedlots. It is not permitted so while the land use of a feedlot may be permitted they do need consent for their effluent management. Effluent discharge is either a controlled or discretionary activity.

Only council in the country that allows it. As far as I know they cleared the practice to 2027

Otago Regional Council permits all land use. No consents required. Most permitted activities in both ORC and HBRC do require consents for specific operational activities e.g. effluent discharge, so while they are free to have a feedlot they do have to meet standards for the operation of said feedlot. e.g. In ORC you can easily get a consent to put a bore down, however it can be difficult to get a permit to take water from that bore. I know a farmer who converted from sheep to dairy, put his bore down believing that as he could put a bore down, he would be able to take water, only to be refused a permit to take any water. He was fortunate to have a generous irrigation scheme allowance which he set up storage for, and was able to continue to convert to dairy.

Most kiwis, I believe are unaware of the number of feedlots in NZ.

I am in Sweden with an environmental scientist who works for the government here. He was amazed at what is happening in NZ. He asked if we wanted to keep our markets. It takes time for leaching to reach aquifers.

To be fair Andrew, I think your environmental scientist would also be amazed that New Zealand farming is completely unsubsidised and funding for environmental protection has to be generated on the farm. Considering 60% of the entire EU budget is spent on farm subsidies.

NZ farming is not completely unsubsidised.
They are not being charged the polluting cost of their activities, for one. And the Ruataniwha dam will directly benefit the farmers in that area who require more water for irrigation. The cost of the building of the dam is not - as far as I'm aware - funded by these farmers.
NZ farms may not enjoy the same type of subsidies as their EU counterparts, but neither are they completely unsubsidised, as you claim.

Well if you;re going to look at subsidies like that DFTBA then all the imports that come into the country would have to be deemed subsidised by NZ exporters wouldn't they?

....a the exporters in turn are subsidised by the NZ natural environment, so same difference.
The environment is what makes us most of our money, be it from forestry, crops, honey, dairy or meat. Most extractions are crude, and have very little added value, whilst quite heavily polluting or impoverishing our environment.
Time to have a rethink: add the cost of cleaning up pollution to the business making the item and making the profit.
That should be catalyst enough to change our whole approach to our plundering behaviour.

I would love to see Invercargill have to pay the cost of cleaning up the pollution leaching from it's historical landfill, in to the waterway. It of course will never happen. Then there is the stormwater pollution.
Sediment collected from streams and rivers flowing through Invercargill had higher metal and DDT concentrations than those passing through agricultural catchments. This is likely to come from stormwater

If you deem the exporters as being subsidised by the natural environment then those who don't do anything but guzzle imports should really be seen as double dipping on the subsidy side then........if you produce nothing but then consume imports paid for by exports which are produced by the natural environment then you are requiring that natural environment and the farmers/expoters to use that natural environment to subsidise your lifestyle aren't your!?

What value do you add? I agree it is time to rethink because NZ has too many people with unrealistic expectations.........Is your faeces and other bodily fluids polluting the environment? Do you eat vegies that come from land that is worked up, sprayed and irrigated etc? NZ has far too many squeaking wheel types who have nothing better to do than promote their own agendas using devious ploys.

I get the impression that you not only want the farmers and environment to subsidise you but you also want any profits turned over as do know what a parasite is don't you?

My fav comment of the year

Well said

Ditto the $400 Mill Crown Irrigation fund, the exemption from the ETS scheme (ag producing 49% but only paying for 3% = subsidy of estimated $1.3 Billion). Could add in the little o'l tax breaks like the livestock valuation scheme, 25% of house power, and so on. Best we not mention the water quality, because some of the sensitive folk think we need to wait for even more reports on that one.

Maybe not as subsidised as some ...but subsidised no less.

All businesses including home based businesses get 'little o'l tax breaks'.

Yes its difficult for some to understand the space required in my fridge for vaccines, antibiotics, the heading puppies possyum. The space in my freezer for the mighty mix the rest of the possyum rolls and the odd dog tucker ram. The beating the kitchen takes cos I am home for breakfast lunch and dinner. All the time. The general beating the house takes cos I come in pretty dirty a lot of the time. Hay snd dirt loves to follow you everywhere. The fire never goes out all winter. The garage and carport store a myriad of farm equipment including 2 fourwheelers. And the accompanying mud from them. Critters from the burbs live in their pristine little houses with their pristine little cars on their pristine little sections. I have had placenta covered yellow newborn lambs peeing on my carpet. 25% tax free on the power bill doesnt really cover it.

The livestock valuation scheme means I pay tax on my stock before they are sold. Before I see a cent. If I have a few breeding cows and fatten the offspring I will have paid tax on them 4 years before I get any money from the excercise. Mmm great tax incentive. There would not be many businesses faced with this cost.

Farmers and growers will certainly pay for the water they take from the dam, and no doubt the investors will get a good return on their investment.

It doesn't justify destroying land which was under conservation..
If farming can't be had without causing this much destruction on a permanent basis, then the area should not be farmed as proposed.
Investors should not be investing in, or help funding a build like this. Environmentally sensitive schemes like this should not be judged on whether 'investors will get a good return'.
There would be no economy, at all, if it weren't for nature. It is high time to stop destroying it in order to make a quick buck, and to look only 3, 5 or ten years ahead.
We should be thinking in terms of 50, or 100 years, not less than that. With the average age of women having their first child at 30, 100 years really is not much longer than 3 generations.

It is likely more land will be returned to conservation status by farmers under QEII covenants than taken out.

Many farming families look to family succession of their farms therefore they are looking more than 3 or 5 years ahead - looking to generations ahead.

Even though 30% of NZ land is under conservation, the majority of that land is mountainous, or even alpine. Very steep, mostly inhospitable to a lot of our endemic species, be that fauna or flora.
Same with farming: the land which will be returned to conservation will probably be steep, and unproductive. Just because a piece of land is returned to 'conservation' doesn't mean it's great news for biodiversity.
Yes, it's good for planting natives and sequestering CO2, but we need large swathes of land in temperate areas being allowed to re-wild.
Right not that doesn't sound attractive, I know. And farming as a whole needs to change, anyway. Less farming for meat, more farming for crops, more permaculture, less pesticides and herbicides - altogether treading more softly on the land.

We have the largest swathes of land locked up in the OECD for conservation purposes. We do our bit already. Pesticides and herbicides means more efficient land use and more land available for conservation. Your vision of how land should be farmed and conserved is at odds with itself.

"Allowing for wild cards, we believe that projecting conservative values for population, affluence, consumers, and technology shows humanity peaking in the use of farmland. Over the next 50 years, the prospect is that humanity is likely to release at least 146 mHa, one and a half times the size
of Egypt, two and a half times that of France, or ten Iowas, and possibly multiples of this amount.

Another 50 years from now, the Green revolution may be recalled not only for the global diffusion of high-yield cultivation practices for many crops, but as the herald of peak farmland and the restoration of vast acreages of nature. Almost 20 years ago we made a wild surmise about land sparing
(Waggoner 1994). Now we are confident that we stand on the peak of cropland use, gazing at a wide expanse of land that will be spared for nature."

Check out QEII DFTBA - a lot of that farmland under QEII (I exclude the covenant from Mutt Lange in Central Otago) is not on steep land. Our own QEII covenant and many others are on on flat or rolling land. QEII is turning farmers away who want to place covenants on their land due to a lack of funding.

Be careful what you wish for when you say more crop farming - cereal crops in areas of Southland at the turn of the century contaminated the soil to such a degree that the land was only fit for low stocked sheep. It took decades before anything other than low stocked sheepfarming could be considered. Currently NZ cropping farmers are struggling to be competitive against imported wheat etc on price.

In Drummond in Southland in later years 'blue baby syndrome', caused by high water nitrate was a problem. It was a big cropping area.

Tulip growing is considered a very benign activity. But when you have over 100ha of tulips currently being grown over the worst Nitrate hot spot in Southland - Balfour - and there is over 5ton of N being applied in winter - the leakiest leaching time of the year - is it any wonder that the N level in the aquifer is going up. And that's just what they apply in winter. Cropping is a VERY heavy user of fertilisers. Multiple times more than livestock farming and add to that the sediment from fallow ground........

We are losing pastoral land, not increasing it- SUMMARY OF PRODUCTION LANDSCAPE TRENDS
Overall, the total area of improved pasture dropped by about 160 000 hectare between 2002 and 2009.

We operate a low input farming system in one region and live in an area that is very strong in viticulture/horticulture. I am more concerned about the sprays used in the growing of our grapes/fruit than I am in farming. When you can't run stock under some crops to clean up the grass due to spray toxicity in the soil you just know there's gotta be a problem. But as it isn't related to dairy no one really cares.
Bit like Lake snow in the iconic lakes of Wanaka and Wakatipu - the lack of action over it could in the space of a decade or so turn Lake Wanaka unfit to swim or recreate in/on. Wakatipu is now also infected with it. Does anyone want to be proactive about it - not really - there aren't any dairy farms around. I guarantee that if there were dairy farms on the shores of either, govt, public etc would be demanding & funding it be looked in to.

In a perfect world 'treading softly' could work, but with the modified farming landscapes we have and in NZ the lack of cash/subsidies that many countries pay their farmers, we simply wouldn't be competitive.

Ultimately this will come back to Hastings DC and this opinion piece will be proved right.

Hawkes Bay Regional Council only has a broad responsibility to ensure sustainability in the water resource - whatever "sustainability" means. Responsibility for delivering potable water to households and businesses rests 100% on the water scheme operator - in this case: Hastings District Council.

If Hastings DC ever had any reason to believe that the aquifer they were drawing from was unreliable they had to treat the water before distributing it or draw from a different, reliable source They didn't. Let's see if there was a good reason for not doing so.

It is true that urban water consumers increasingly have to pay to protect themselves from agricultural intensification but that is another discussion.

The National Fresh Water Management Plan is firmly a requirement of regional councils and its binding. They are the environment watchdog. With MCI (invertebrates) counts at levels the worst in the country and at levels scientists didn't think possible, it is the HBRC in the gun. The NPSFM requires regional councils to maintain water quality or improve it. Fail.major fail thousands sick two dead

Drinking Water Standards 2000 published by Ministry of Health don't allow the water scheme operator to rely on "upstream" water sources. They have to deal with what they get.

Ultimately Hastings District Council will get a caning out of this.

We might like to think that Hawkes Bay Regional Council should have kept the Tukituki river "pure" but the RMA doesn't really require that. Auckland takes a large portion of its drinking water directly from the Waikato River. I'm pretty confident that Watercare Services doesn't assume that that water is pure.

HDC really had to constantly assess its risk of taking water from an aquifer recharged by the Tukituki and the hydrogeology of that area. If they had any doubts about the security of that supply they needed to find another source or treat the water from that source.

No-one else was responsible.

As an aside, the Waikato river supplies only about 10% of Auckland's water. (90% comes from local resources). For a few weeks of the year, however, it is higher. Here is Watercare's detail

Since 2002, the Waikato River has also been part of Auckland’s water supply network, providing an average of 37,000 m3 of water to the region each day, meeting between eight per cent and 15 per cent of the area's annual needs, depending on weather conditions and dam levels. At times during the 2013 drought, the Waikato was supplying almost 30 per cent of Auckland’s water (less than one per cent of the river’s volume).

Thanks for that, David. I was too lazy to do my own basic research :-)

David from your own site
"""We'd again like to reiterate that abusing fellow commenters, the authors of articles published on, or people interviewed and quoted in our stories, won't be tolerated. Play the ball and not the man or woman please."""
Does calling contributors idiots not fit into this policy ?

Name calling is all Rastus has got. It just highlights the chaps depth and breadth of knowledge.

The RMA requires that the life saving properties of water are maintained.
Part 2, s5, the purpose of the RMA:

"Part 2
Purpose and principles
5 Purpose

(1) The purpose of this Act is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.

(2) In this Act, sustainable management means managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while—

(a) sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and

(b) safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and

(c) avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment."

OK I am no fan of HBRC and I agree with most of what Andrewj has to say in this commentary. But we are talking legal obligations not moral ones here.

So, you can argue forever about whether the Tukituki should be less polluted than it is but currently it doesn't seem to kill animals or plants and with relatively simple mitigation (water treatment) it is suitable for humans to drink. It's life sustaining qualities have been preserved. I'll string together the key words of s 2:

"...sustainable management means managing the...development...of natural and physical resources in a way...which enables...communities to provide for and safety while....remedying or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment."

This describes the situation perfectly. Development has proceeded although it does require some active mitigation to obtain potable water from that source.

This is all an aside though. The RMA does not require HBRC to ensure that potable water is available in the environment. It is now and always has been Hastings DC's job to ensure water is potable.

The RMA is a statute, and therefore legally binding.
It would well be argued that the effects of the activities in the Tukituki catchment have not been mitigated sufficiently, and the quality and quantity of the invertebrates in the water contradicts your statement that its life sustaining qualities have been preserved.
Also from some other comments here in this thread, it seems obvious that non-complying activities are going on in the catchment area.
The mitigating should be on the effect of the activity, not on how to get potable water from the Tukituki.
As in: the pollution should be mitigated.
Mitigating the effects doesn't mean allowing pollution to happen, and then placing the cost on cleaning up the river on the taxpayer....User pays: you pollute, you pay to get it cleaned up again.

Also note that mitigating is the last option of 3: the first is to prevent, the second to remediate.

"Mitigation" means softening the effect of. You mitigate the effects of air pollution by wearing a face mask; the air pollution is still there.If the other effects of pollution in the Tukituki can be put up with then the only mitigation required is to chlorinate or UV any water drawn from that source before drinking it.

I am not trying to defend HBRC or its practices I am simply saying that technically Rolleston is correct to object to people saying water pollution caused the gastro outbreak in Havelock North. It created the conditions under which the outbreak might occur but HDC's failure to adequately protect its water supply from possible contamination is a more likely "cause" of the outbreak.

What is the remedy when nitrates get into drinking water.

From a dietary POV the jury is still out on nitrates AJ.

"The WHO ADI for nitrate (0–3.7 mg/kg) translates into an equivalent of 222 mg nitrate for a 60-kg adult. Our calculations above indicate that an individual following a DASH dietary pattern with high-nitrate vegetable and fruit choices represented in our convenience sample would exceed this ADI by ≈550%. In fact, as has been observed previously and confirmed here, a portion of spinach commonly consumed in one serving of salad can exceed the ADI for nitrate (51). The fact that typical consumption patterns of vegetables and fruit exceed regulatory limits for dietary nitrates calls into question the rationale behind current nitrate and nitrite regulations. The physiologic basis for regulating human consumption of plant foods containing nitrates and nitrites should be reevaluated to include potential health benefits. "

In more ways than one, there is a lot of shit talked about the Havelock North water contamination. Just two days after the story broke, there was a professor of Pblic Policy interviewed on National Radio who said it was dairy farming and climate change. No Proof, no nothing. Just like the statements of Mike Joy and even Andrewj on this post.
The water bores are supposed to be cased through the groundwater taking water from the underlying aquifer. in that deeper zone, water moves at a few metres per day. That means any contamination will spread diffusely and slowly. Long time to arrive and takes forever to clear. The fact it was full on less than three days after a clear test indicates it was surface water. Probably because the well drillers did not cement the surface casing in correctly. That and over-pumping by the council would provide a rapid path down into the water supply when there is a lot of surface water, like there was the week before.
The bores are down Brookvale Road. The Tukituki is about a kilometer away. Most of the land around the bores is orcharding or vineyards, with just some sheep to between the grapevines. There may also have been sheep in the orchards, but I didn't see them. There is also sub-division housing and the mushroom farm close by. I was in that area when it happened and didn't see any mobs of cattle anywhere nearby. I don't know where the feedlots people talk about are - probably with the nearby dairy farms no doubt;-) There was a lot of horses at an event just along the road though. There are shallow surface streams quite close either side of the contaminated bore.
Poorly constructed well, over-pumping, heavy rain. That is all that is needed. Doesn't need any other factors.
It is a bad situation, but what is worse is people running their own fact free agendas off it.

Sorry ,If there is one organisation in NZ that willfully indulges in 'fact free' agendas its the Feds.
They have invested alot of resources in a campaign of determined denial, and poorly co-ordinated distractions, such as pointing the finger at urban pollution, and unsurprisingly ,its failed...
Its time the Feds climbed down from their high horse of hypocrisy, cut their losses, and start planning for the remainder of the 21st century, just like the rest of us have to.

From the interview I saw of him, Mike Joy didn't claim it was due to dairying. He directly said it was likely impossible to know the exact cause of this particular contamination (so I don't know where you're getting this rubbish). But he thought that problems like this were symptomatic of a much larger problem, one which says that NZ is leading the stats in gastro bugs. He was advocating for better national water management, hoping that this would be a wake up call. The dairying issue is just one aspect of that (although a rather blatant one), and one that he's clearly passionate about.

I am not as concerned about the Havelock outbreak as a I'm about the general decline in water quality. Streams around me are dead and that from HBRC data. I think that cheating mother nature ends up with poor results. All my arguments I support with data where possible from HBRC.

Tell us all what you are doing on your farm to reduce your impact on the streams around you ?
If you are correct about water quality in those streams YOU are a contributor to it

Firing salvos from abroad is not ok while your cattle leak Nitrogen and Phosphorus into water

I am mostly organic, I run a low input farming system. I plant trees around streams to shade water. I still impact the environment but try to reduce where possible. I have in the past 90's run a feedlot, I'm like reformed smoker.
The cost of my tree planting crusade was over 30k.

Hi Andrew, I'm glad you have raised the point on plantings around streams to shade water..........this shading effect doesn't allow for the sunlight to kill off pathogens.....very few people seem to understand that periods of low sunlight and wet weather allow for the pathogens to substantially increase in numbers.

It seems we have got all this education but have lost the common sense knowledge.

When we planted up our stream banks more than a decade ago we were told it was the right thing to do. Now we are told science has shown that it does almost nothing for n mitigation but is good for p mitigation. Also now Regional Council is telling us that leaving long grass on the strips is more effective than planting native trees as the grass will help act as a filter whereas with native trees the water simply runs under them. Much better to use toi toi if you want to use natives, we are told. Also I am hearing more from scientists now that shading streams, while good for biodiversity, is not necessarily good for water quality/macrophytes.

Science is continually increasing our knowledge - in some cases debunking old 'opinion' based 'facts' and in some cases supporting them. Unfortunately many people are still clinging to
edit 'old science' because they cant keep up with the new knowledge science gives us.

I think the tussock country offers up a tip or two CO. Stock graze alongside the creeks and use them for water and the quality of that water is pretty good from all get some natural shaded areas with bluffs and rocky outcrops and other places where the creek water is in the open ..........

The issue I have with all the so-called advisors that run around is that following their advice as best practice always has ramifications down the track........these people and the organisations they work for need to be held accountable for the advice the dish up because some people like yourself can end up spending large sums of money doing the so-called right thing to find out it otherwise........

I have pruned my trees to 5m. Hopefully I am now in some sort of middle ground.

Thanks AndrewJ
But you are still a contributor to the Nitrogen into waterways organic or not
You buy Friesian bulls or traditional beef cattle for finishing on your land , they all originated from other farms that discharge NItrogen in some form , they are sent to slaughter at a meat plant another potential point of Nitrogen discharge to water . Then consumers who digest your food products discharge Nitrogen into various septic tanks / sewage systems , approximately 35% of that Nitrogen lost to water from the whole process is lost in this way .
It is ironic you or your farm get all the blame for Nitrogen lost to water , yet the end consumer ( as shown by comments on this site ) bear no responsibly / liability for there consumption of food cheap and food at that

It's always hard when an insider speaks out,one of the team, in this case I have a lot of support from existing farmers. I own no cattle at present.
Children scattered, daughter starting Uni in stockholm tomorrow, another in Norway. One in Texas and so on.

You have repeatedly mentioned the large feedlots as the cause of the contamination - as the headline post is about Havelock North's water supply, where are those feedlots in relationship to that?

They start on the Papanui and run on up. The council has a farmer lead group looking at the problem. I never new it was so bad till a few years ago. Papanui is a poison stream

They start on the Papanui and run on up. The council has a farmer lead group looking at the problem. I never new it was so bad till a few years ago. Papanui is a poison stream

Thank you Andrew.
As there is the big mudstone peaks in the way between the upper Tukituki and the Herataunga gravels, it is almost certain that the feed for the aquifers is in the upper Ngaruroro where the gravel came from. That means the feedlots which are at least 20km away and in a different catchment are extremely unlikely to be the contaminant source.
From what has been said so far, the campylobacter is only probably ruminant based and that would include sheep and horses as well as cattle

All I know is the Tuki is a mess in a fresh. I haven't been to look at Hastings bores. Doubt light stocked cattle would suddenly be a problem.
Stuck in France with a bomb scare at airport, sirens, police,bomb squad lots of screaming. 200 off us in a condoned off area. Looks like an old lady forgot her bag.

Boring - this has already been put to bed by NZ's chief scientist quite a while ago.

Are you claiming Dr Mike Joy is NZ's chief scientist? Even the article has him as just "a leading environmental scientist", not even "the" . One could also quibble and point out that he is a lecturer, so an academic, not a scientist who works for a science organization like NIWA. But he is another one who blamed dairying for the pollution despite no evidence
Isn't he the person who claimed the Manawatu was the most polluted river in the world?

Sorry Chris - you missed my irony. I was taking the piss and implying JK was the CS.

Have a look at the video and see how embarrassing it was for NZ's 100% Pure BS especially the bit about 'that might be Mike Joy's view but I don't share that view"

"The government has been demanding much higher environmental standards" (so that we can at least wade in the rivers apparently)

The condensed version

Actually no-one should be commenting until the final report comes out. Even the FF. The thing is we actually don't know what has caused this and where the failing is. The real question should be why is takes so long to get a final report.

What I haven't done is intensify, which is very tempting on the light gravels and I have a lot. I ran a feedlot I the 90's but found the cost of brought in feed made it un economic. Also made a huge mess by the river with 200 cattle. If you have wet clay soils then getting heavy cattle off them is a bonus in winter. I also have some experience with feed pads in Canada. Careful what you call these pits council treats feed pads very different to feedlots.

Just like we borrow from the future to support housing bubbles and asset speculation, we can also borrow of the future in agriculture. Short term advantages with long term consequences.
We can take mother nature out behind the bike shed and give her what for.
Short term itis has got a big foothold in nz.
I think it's going to lead to some kind of systemic failure, flawed ideology like mpi and the idea of doubling ag production by2025.

To be fair Aj a lot of the water quality issues are historical. Reality is that there will be waterways that will be showing declining water quality for decades. Intensification of ag is compounding what is already there as is incompetence of some Regional Councils. Some lag times are decades long and some are >100years. Some others are <10years. Good management practice, when implemented has shown that there can be reductions in nutrients quite quickly in some areas.

Exactly AJ, short termism has agriculture and the Nats in the same bed.
Neither are thinking of the long term future for NZ. One group is hoping the issues dissapear from the local media by shooting the messenger before the world notices we are only 10% pure and the other is hoping things won't collapse completely before late 2017. Sad times.

100 children
"Leave us clear waters and forest uncut,
Think of tomorrow and leave something for us"

Let's hope this generation take their wisdom to the grave with them.

Can anyone answer this question I asked before? "How do you compare water quality between different years with different levels of rainfall?" In a year of high rain fall average water levels are higher, how do they compare the water quality against a year when it does not rain and the river is running at a trickle?

We use averages and are wrong almost all the time.

Shouldn't rely on a river or stream's capacity to 'wash away' pollutants.
What's in the water is what should be measured, same dates, same places.
The level of the water and rain (or lack thereof) can help determine where pollutants are coming from, and it is those that need to be remediated.
Can't blame the data for being data: get rid of the nitrate, urine, and faeces....

A river consists of what falls out of the sky and springs, they have large catchments in the mountains where it rains more. Without flow water will not be clean. In our area there is a fast flowing river and a slow flowing river, both have dairy farms on them, the fast flowing river is much cleaner then the other. With or without farming farming the fast flowing river will always be cleaner. Masterton district council learnt this when they constructed a man made lake on the edge of Masterton ( Henly lake). They have had a lot of trouble with agle blooms, you can't let your dog off the leash there as it will kill your dog.

Different councils use different water measurements. e.g. Southland measure at high flow, Otago doesn't worry about high flow, only low flow as that is more of a problem.