Councillor Ewan McGregor doesn’t like the fact that BayBuzz keeps knocking the Regional Council for the lousy state of the Tukituki. Over the past eighteen months or so, sometimes he’s argued that the Tuki is not miserably polluted at all (or no more so than his boyhood days), and at other times he’s argued that the Regional Council can’t be expected to move any faster on clean-up.
Which leads to the question, how long should it take the Council to clean up a river that apparently isn’t polluted in the first place?!
Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that the only reason anything (i.e., a lot of planning for more research and monitoring and, rumour has it, some financial help for CHB to deal with its poop problem) is being done by the Regional Council is because a watchdog group, the Hawke’s Bay Environmental Water Group (HBEWG), persisted in challenging the Council’s data, methodology and attitude, despite being denigrated by certain Councillors and staff over an extended period. But for the HBEWG, the Council would still have its collective thumb you know where.
Because Councillor McGregor is such a loyal BayBuzz reader, however, I’m publishing his full complaint below. I must say that I think Councillor McGregor would be wiser not to climb farther out on this limb over the Tukituki, lest it crack and drop him in, and the river sweep him away.
From Councillor McGregor:
Another attack on the Tukituki river, and the Regional Council’s management of it Tom.
It’s easy to criticise but how about answering some questions?
1. I’ve already asked this. If you’ve answered it then I’ve missed it. What has the R C not done in the last 12 months that it should have done but hasn’t to remove the slime in the lower reaches? You’ve indicated that the RC is to blame for this.
2. Why is there far less slime in the middle reaches currently than the lower reaches. (See pic I took yesterday at shag Rock.)
3. You say “The days are gone when HBEWG and its complaints about water quality and management can be tossed aside by the Regional Council.” When has the RC “tossed aside” complaints about the TT?
4. You diminish the reports criticisms of the HBEWG with this comment; While not agreeing with all of HBEWG’s statements and suggestions, there can be no doubt that the review confirms the main elements of public concern about the Tukituki situation. I challenge your impression that the report is so one sided and that the RC is found so negligent. Yes we can do better and we are striving to do so, but the BayBuzz faithful will not gain this impression. The report also says “I believe that some of their [HBEWG] statements are incorrect and I disagree with some of their suggestions. In my opinion the HDEWG does not have a ‘science programme’ which can be compared with that of the Council, There are a few glaring mistakes in the commentary supplied which indicate that the technical commentary of the HBEWG is low in some areas.” And later “I urge the HBEWG to refrain from technical topics outside their level of competency and rather focus on topics problems and issues….” Of course this can be read on BayBuzz. But it’s a long report. The Conclusion is a good reference.
5. I have said publically that the HBEWG has given the RC a hurry up, and good on it. There’s a name for it – democracy.
6. “The report was too hot for the RC to handle” you say In fact the Chairman insisted that the recommendation from staff to receive the report was not good enough and insisted it be debated. While I had read the report at the time of the meeting other councillors hadn’t so rightly or wrongly it is being held over to the next meeting.
7. Yes, the TT needs improving, but it doesn’t “stink’ as you say, and neither does the report say it does.
8. The RC is working mightily to improve this river, some of it necessarily behind the scenes. If you think that it can happen overnight you are dreaming. Putting the boot into the Council over the River is becoming tiresome – and now entirely unproductive.
I would appreciate it if you can post this in a prominent place.
Regional councillor – and life-long lover of the beautiful Tukituki River. (If my comments can be interpreted as indifference to the River’s wellbeing then I am quite happy for my record of hands-on and promotional landcare in the River’s catchment to be put up against the critics.)
I’m happy to let the report speak for itself. Here it is again.
But in addition, these points:
1. The HBRC could take a precautionary approach and stop awarding water takes from the Tuki while it sorts out its data deficiencies. And months ago, it could have already initiated some of the mitigating steps to curb farm run-off — as recommended by staff and urged by the Chairman — that the Council still couldn’t bring itself to endorse at its last meeting. That’s the difference between “planning” and “action.”
2. Challenge the analysis of the HBEWG all you like, Ewan, but the bottomline is that the report recommends action on the two key “science” issues the group raised all along … how the water was being tested below the CHB sewage system discharges and the sufficiency and location of monitoring sites.
3. Over the hot months, the river did literally stink … any number of landowners along the lower reaches will testify to that. And figuratively, it still does.
4. “Putting the boot” to the Regional Council is becoming “tiresome” and “entirely unproductive” says Councillor McGregor. But as he says elsewhere in his message, there’s a name for it — it’s called “democracy.” Anyway, I think of it more as putting Councillors under the magnifying glass, and I do hope it’s getting hotter and hotter under there.