The Environment Minister, Local Government New Zealand, and now our very own HB Regional Council have proudly issued media releases touting a new website that assembles in one place, for all of New Zealand, a set of data regarding the state of water quality.

Says the HBRC release:

The website, Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA), is a collaboration between New Zealand’s 16 regional and unitary councils, the Ministry for the Environment (MFE), Cawthron Institute and Massey University.

A New Zealand first, LAWA displays state and trend information for over 1100 freshwater monitoring sites, giving the public access to all of the country’s water quality monitoring in one place and in a common, easy to understand format.

“We’re pleased to be part of this initiative which seeks to create a better connection between communities and their local waterways,” says Fenton Wilson, Chairman of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Sounds good. An impressive public interest commitment by our government institutions. Or is it?

Guess who’s paying for the website?

Private philanthropist Sir Stephen Tindall!

Here’s what Tindall has to say:

“I have a personal interest in this project because I love swimming and love our waterways. I spend every summer holiday with my family around the water swimming, fishing and kayaking,” says Sir Stephen.

“To me, the fact that the quality of our waterways is on the decline, is a horrifying thought. As a family Foundation we were keen to fund the LAWA website so that information on water quality is easily accessible to the public. And, by collecting data, we can identify problems early and see if water quality is improving or not. Then we can see how we can help, and encourage others to do the same. This is about preserving our rivers and fresh waterways for the future to ensure the safeguarding of our ecosystems our clean green image and to protect our beaches too.”

Fortunately, we have a wealthy private citizen prepared to front up the cash no one in NZ government — national or regional — could seem to find.

Thank you, Sir Stephen.

What does that say about the commitment to water quality of this National Government or our regional councils?

Next they’ll want ratepayers to foot the bill for cleaning up the water pollution caused by unregulated intensified farming practices. Oops, I guess they’ve already thought of that!

Beware Sir Stephen, next the Nats will be after you to finance the Department of Conservation!

Tom Belford

P.S. Have you voted yet in BayBuzz’s First Mayor of Hawke’s Bay straw poll?

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