We don’t want dogs crapping in the street, so why do we accept cows crapping in our water?

Water quality is important. For some reason there is an element in our society who seem to think that just because farmers have been allowing cattle to roam in waterways for 100 years we should still allow it today.

Auckland used to pour its sewage straight into the Manukau Harbour…we don’t any more. The Thames River in the UK was very nearly dead because it was treated as an open sewer. It isn’t any more. Many towns in New Zealand used to dump sewage and factory run-off into our rivers; now it is policed and we are working on stopping the practice.

We expect dog owners to pick up the leavings of their dogs; we used to allow people to leave dog poop all over the place. We’ve changed.

Farmers need to get with the programme. Many do but some let them all down.

Clean water campaigners believe the quality of New Zealand’s fresh water is nearing crisis level.

It comes after a herd of cattle was pictured polluting a North Canterbury Lake.

The cattle were back on dry land well away from Lake Taylor today, but it was a picture taken by a camper over the New Year period that prompted Environment Canterbury (ECan) to pay a visit to cattle’s owners.

It’s not good practice to have stock in the water,” says ECan consents and compliance manager Marty Mortiaux.  

The evidence of their presence on or near the water’s edge is obvious.

The area, north of Christchurch, is a popular camping spot.

Businessman Hugh Fletcher and Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias are majority owners of the 5000-hectare Lakes High Country station. 3 News was ordered off the property when we approached for comment.

Mr Fletcher had earlier admitted he lets the cattle into the lake on hot days, but their access is not continuous. ECan says it’s still not allowed.

“We do have situations where it’s allowed, and it is in extensive farming situations where there is low stock ratios, but they have to be in the high country to be exempt, and this situation falls just out of that,” says Mr Mortiaux.

Allowing cattle in the lake is breaking regional rules and comes with an instant $750 fine and, in worst-case scenarios, prosecution.

Federated Farmers doesn’t condone what happened.

“This is something that, while the reasons why this particular farmer has done it, it’s not the best thing to do at the time if you’ve got alternatives you should use them,” says North Canterbury Federated Farmers president Frank Brenmuhl.

“We get more and more reports of this happening, so I think it needs to be dealt to pretty firmly,” says Bryce Johnson, Fish and Game chief executive.

The great thing about water courses is that if you do stop run-off and allowing cattle into them then, over time – and it is a short amount of time – the rivers and lakes clean up.

Look at the water quality in Rotorua and Rotoiti since the Council clamped down. It’s improving year-on-year.

Farmers need to realise that times have changed. Many have but there are some who still think rules don’t apply to them.

– 3News


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