Kiwis are passionate about their fresh water. We want to protect and improve our rivers so that we, our children and our grandchildren, can safely swim in them. That’s a major challenge given the competing demands for water and more intensive use of land bordering many of our waterways.
In 2014, The Morgan Foundation created the My River project to go into bat for healthier rivers and clean water – central to our quality of life.
We got a bunch of scientists together to tell us what’s going on in our rivers, and help us review government fresh water policy. Download the report here.
The Science of MyRiver
Late 2013 year, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report on land use and water quality. This sparked considerable debate in the media, including vastly different opinions from scientists. This was repeated when the Government released its draft plan for managing fresh water.
This reminded us a little of the climate change debate, which Gareth investigated in the book Poles Apart. So we convened a panel of scientists that represented a range of views to have a conversation unfettered by politics.
Having listened to the scientists debate the issues, we were able to develop a better understanding of what has happened to our water and why. Finally, we came to better understand the source of disagreements between scientists, which are generally not narrow questions of science, but judgements about what we should be trying to achieve.
This process allowed us to form a reasonable person’s view on what needs to be done to care for our rivers.
Panel, Process and Outputs
The panel was asked a series of questions, and then over four rounds were left to debate each other’s answers. The process operated under the Chatham House rule – no statements were or will be attributed to the participants.
Over four rounds we boiled the discussion down to a series of statements for which the scientists displayed either unanimous or majority support. A summary of each round and the final statements can be found here.