Monday, December 08, 2008

Dirty beaches

The Herald reports that nearly a third of our beaches are unsafe for swimming. But reading the story, a scarier fact emerges: that's just the ones they report on. While all regional councils monitor water quality, only half publish the results and rank their beaches for clenliness. The result is that large numbers of New Zealanders could be swimming in water that makes them sick.

This obviously isn't good enough. If they're testing, we have a right to know the results. And if they're not going to publish them, then someone needs to start OIAing them and sticking them online.

The cause of the problem boils down to two things: sewage and cows. Parts of New Zealand (including Auckland) have inadequate sewage systems, while in other parts unregulated dairy farming has filled our streams with shit - all of which eventually washes out to sea. If we want to solve it and have safe beaches which live up to our "clean and green image", then the answer is more regulation, tighter water quality standards, a crackdown on dirty dairying and extra funding for small councils to bring their sewage systems up to scratch. Unfortunately, with National planning to gut the RMA and strangle local government, it looks like our beaches are going to get dirtier rather than cleaner.