This is the time of the year when many of us head to the beach or the local swimming hole for a swim. Unfortunately, we now have to ask whether it’s safe to swim, or is our favourite swimming hole just “wadeable”. According to the government’s own figures 60% of our monitored swimming sites are graded as poor or very poor. That was certainly not the case when I first came to the Coromandel in the 1970s.
Land Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has produced a very useful tool using Google Maps so that you can check up on the water quality of your local river and beach.
What’s interesting – but hardly surprising – when you click through on a variety of river sites – is that most of the rivers which have a catchment in the Coromandel Forest Park have retained reasonable water quality and are safe for swimming. But when you check out lowland river sites which have been affected by intensive dairy farming and other human activities, the water quality is severely affected and these rivers are in fact heavily polluted – often in the highest 25% of New Zealand sites for poor water quality.
The beaches on the east coast of the peninsula are also still safe for swimming.
You can check out the information on local rivers here
You don’t have to a rocket scientist (or even a water quality scientist) to figure out that intensive dairy farming in particular is causing pollution of our lowland rivers on an unprecedented scale. Rather than denial and juvenile attempts to try to take down adverts which point out the bleeding obvious – the dairy industry should concentrate its efforts on solutions.
Update 11 January – you won’t find a better summation of the denial and intransigent of the dairy industry than this article by Rachel Stewart