Should Kiwis be able to jump in the river?
We think we should be able to swim in all rivers, and that is what we have told the Government in our submission on water quality standards (attached). The standard suggested by Government is only that we should be able to wade or boat in our rivers – but for goodness sake don’t slip and put your head under. Under their plan average water quality has to improve, but some rivers may get better and some may get worse. It is unclear how this will be measured, indeed measurement techniques are so imprecise as to make it impossible for government to claim it will keep the rivers on average the same. Will they be telling us a pristine brook in exchange for a despoiled Waimakariri is a fair swap? Even more worrying, are you happy for your local river to be spoiled?
Under the Govts plan, communities can argue for their local rivers to be swimmable. If everyone really owns the river, why should we have to fight for this? It should be the other way around – all our rivers should be swimmable by default and Councils or polluters have to argue the case if they want to drop below this standard.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright seems to agree with our position: