Nick Smith thinks you won’t notice the extra poo in your water
New Zealanders deserve the standards they asked for, not the ones the National government made up
Yesterday the Government announced their new “ambitious” freshwater plan for our rivers. A plan that, while it looks good as a headline, when you dig into the details, you’ll find is full of poo.
Rather than putting in place plans to improve the quality of our rivers and lakes, the Government has actually lowered water quality standards so that it looks like they’re doing something about the state of our rivers.
Let me explain:
- Under the old system, for a waterway to be considered swimmable, the acceptable level of E.coli was less than 260 per 100 mL of water.
- Scientists use the amount of E.coli as an indicator of faecal contamination present in fresh water and therefore the health risk it poses.
- Under the new system, the government considers a river swimmable when the level of E. coli is 540 per 100 mL increasing the risk of campylobacter infection and other pathogens. The Ministry of Health guidelines called this standard an “alert” value and rated it a ‘C’. Now the Minister is giving it an ‘A’ and describes it as “excellent”.
The government are using underhanded PR tricks to make it look like they’re cleaning our rivers.
In reality, what they’ve done is lower water quality standards so that our rivers pose a greater risk of infection and can still be considered “swimmable”.
They think they can trick the New Zealand public. Instead, you can make this the tipping point. Together, we can send an audacious message that our government, and the public, won’t be able to ignore.
While we are disappointed by this announcement, we are not surprised. In fact, we suspected this might be the case, so along with our friends at Choose Clean Water, we’ve been devising a plan.
Here’s what we’re going to do:
- With your help, we will crowdfund the budget for a huge street poster and billboard campaign calling out the government’s new “freshwater” policy for the deceit that it is, in Wellington Central. The billboards will stay up for a month, and they’ll be specifically placed in areas we know politicians will see them.
- Once the billboards are up, we will organise members of our community to send emails and make calls to Nick Smith every single day for the next month until we get a response.
- We will increase support for an actual swimmable bottom line, by coordinating public statements from scientists and medical professionals who will point out that the government’s proposed standards would lead to a decline in water quality and public health.
- We’ll organise a public action to draw media attention to the government’s deceptive and insufficient approach to freshwater standards. We have a plan for this, but it’s top secret so we can’t spoil the surprise!
- If we can raise even more, we’ll create an explainer video for social media so that New Zealanders can wrap their heads around this underhanded use of tricky messaging.
Together, we can send a message that our government, and the public, won’t be able to ignore.
- “Swimmable” rivers five times more likely to make you sick, Scoop, 23rd Feb 2017
- Waterways will be riskier to swim in, rural GP network says, RNZ, 23rd Feb 2017
- Campaigners will fight National’s new freshwater policy, Scoop, 23rd Feb 2017
- The thorny politics of ‘swimmable’, a word losing its meaning, Stuff, 23rd Feb 2017
- Nick Smith’s water policy a washout, Scoop, 24th Feb 2017