Last week, I blogged about the decision of the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council to allow dairy giant Fonterra to dump 8,500 cubic meters of effluent a day into the Manawatu River from its Longburn plant. According to yesterday's Manawatu Standard, the decision is now being challenged in the environment court. Meanwhile, a letter to the Standard has pointed out exactly how filthy Fonterra is being. Water quality is typically measured as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) - roughly the amount of oxygen pollution sucks out of the water as it biodegrades. The BOD of treated wastewater is around 30 g/m3, and that of raw sewage (which we don't usually allow to be dumped into rivers) around 200 g/m3. According to Fonterra's consent, the average BOD of their effluent is 2,600 g/m3, and can reach as high as 16,000. The net effect is graphically illustrated by the following:
[Palmerston North City Council] discharges about 720 kg BOD per day. Fonterra has predicted that it will discharge an average of 2546 kg BOD per day. This is the equivalent of a town the size of Wanganui dumping all its raw sewage into the river. In one in 20 days BOD discharged will reach over 6000 kg per day, the equivalent of a city the size of Dunedin
In this day and age, we wouldn't let a town or city just dump its untreated shit into a river (the few that still do are being forced to clean up their act). We shouldn't let Fonterra do the equivalent - particularly when it relies on New Zealand's "clean and green" image to market itself overseas.