Increasing levels of pollutants found in New Zealand's freshwater rivers despite improvement - report

Increasingly regular monitoring of New Zealand's rivers and streams is helping communities get a clearer picture of the health of the country's waterways. 

It's World Rivers Day, and a new report on the quality of New Zealand's rivers shows there is still work to do.

Although the fresh update has revealed they are getting clearer, clarity doesn't always indicate good health. 

The report from Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) combines data from more than 1400 sites, analysing trends over the last decade.

"What we see in it - and this is about the trends - there are some improving rivers, and there are some that are getting worse," says Tim Davie, a LAWA river water quality scientist.

The national summary shows increasing levels of e-coli and nitrogen, the two main agricultural pollutants.

Federated Farmers says there are some positive trends in the report, but still clearly some work to do.

The organisation is welcoming a switch to monthly monitoring by most councils, which helps provide a more accurate picture.

The public are being encouraged to get detailed information on their local waterways themselves by using the LAWA website.

Fish and Game believes the negative trends can only be reversed through Government regulation.

"We need to regulate the rural sector, and we need to regulate the urban environment too," says CEO Martin Taylor. "Both groups have to do their bit to make sure that we have fresh water for our kids and future."

That's what the Government wants to do with its wide-ranging freshwater action plan, but those proposals are attracting strong opposition from rural communities. 

Public submissions have now been extended until the end of October.