Use of Hawke's Bay waterways 'disgusting'

  • 31/08/2016
David Parker
David Parker

Labour's environment spokesman says the treatment of waterways in the Hawke's Bay is disgusting - and he has the photos to prove it.

David Parker told a public meeting in Havelock North that the water contamination crisis had highlighted some of the wider water issues facing the region "due to increasingly intensified agriculture".

"So I went to have a look at some of that today myself," he told a panel at the meeting, which included representatives from the local and regional councils and health board, on Tuesday night at the Riverbend Bible Church.

"I was disgusted - I really was. I've got photos on my phone of what I think must be breaches of the law - dead livestock next to some of your waterways [near Havelock North], so-called feed lots... making a pigsty out of the dirt which in any rain event must be getting in your waterways.

"You've got some serious problems with your rivers around here."

Mr Parker's speech was met with applause from many of the 300-odd at the meeting which comes after more than 5000 were struck down by a gastric illness after the Havelock North water supply was contaminated earlier this month.

He has since uploaded the photos to his Facebook page.

The Labour MP didn't say that the contamination was caused by farming, but spoke generally about water health in the area. The source of the contamination is still unknown and is being investigated.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Nick Smith warned against jumping to conclusions about the cause of the outbreak during an address to crowds at a Lincoln University environment lecture in Christchurch on Tuesday night.

Questions have been asked about the culpability cattle and chicken farmers, as well as a nearby mushroom farm, but Dr Smith said sometimes even the most basic failures could be to blame.

It is a reminder of E. coli contamination in Nelson where upstream farmers, birds and waterfowl were blamed before testing confirmed the true cause.

"It was embarrassingly found that most of the problem was toilets from the council's library having been wrongly plumbed into the stormwater rather than the sewerage system," he said.

He said the lesson was to be cautious of jumping to conclusions too soon.