Saturday, March 06, 2010

Its us or the cows

Many years ago, I lived in Christchurch. One of the things I remember about it is the water - clean and pure, naturally filtered by hundreds of metres of gravel, it didn't need to be chlorinated or heavily treated. It tasted like what it was: clean, pure water.

Now, thanks to intensive dairy farming on the Canterbury Plains, the people of Christchurch are increasingly drinking cowpiss. Nitrate-nitrogen concentrations at the Avonhead bore have been rising since 1995. This contamination has two main sources: cows, and the fertiliser used to grow the grass that feeds them. Nitrates are toxic to people, and there is a maximum allowable value in drinking water. If unsustainable dairy farming is allowed to continue in Canterbury, this maximum value will be exceeded, and Christchurch's previously pure water will be rendered unfit for human consumption.

Basically, its us or the cows. That's the stark choice we are looking at. And put like that, there can be only one answer: the cows have to go, or be regulated to within an inch of their lives to prevent them from being a threat to ours. And to its credit, ECan has been slowly moving in that direction, thanks to voter pressure.

Unfortunately, the government sees that as the problem. They see farmers as money, and don't care that that money will be made by slowly poisoning the rest of us. Their decision to abolish democracy and appoint a dictator in Canterbury will not solve the problem of farmer pollution, but instead exacerbate it. But the farmers will be laughing all the way to the bank, and that is all they care about.