You’ve heard of “bad hair” days?
Well, yesterday was a “bad water” day for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
First came an appeal by Councillor Liz Remmerswaal, responding to constituent concerns, to place a discussion of Tukituki water issues on the Council’s next meeting agenda … an appeal supported by Councillors Tim Gilbertson and Ewan McGregor. In response, Council staff promised to prepare a report on Tukituki water supply and quality issues for discussion at the HBRC’s February meeting.
To say the least, BayBuzz and many in the community will look forward to that report with great anticipation … and with a critical eye.
Senior environmental staffer Murray Buchanan, in making the commitment, observed that concerns might dissipate when all were made more fully aware of the information held by the Council on this matter. What HBRC needs to understand is that: a) its report will be put under expert scrutiny; and b) what mere citizens are “aware” of now, they know because of their own eyes and noses, as well as their analyses of the Council’s own data.
Then the second shoe fell.
MP’s Craig Foss and Chris Tremain, making it a point to get on top of HB water issues, the same day issued this media release (quoted in full here), titled: Mohaka River in Danger? …
“Hawke’s Bay MP’s Craig Foss and Chris Tremain are concerned that the pollution counts from the Mohaka River may be rising.
“I understand that contamination levels, at the head waters of the Mohaka, are increasing at an alarming rate. The Mohaka is one of our most iconic rivers. Complacency must not be allowed to dilute the beauty and sustainability of our waterways.” said Craig Foss.
“The Mohaka River goes through the heart of Hawke’s Bay. It is important that we protect this key asset for future generations” said Chris Tremain.
The Mohaka has a conservation order upon it which aims to protect its outstanding amenity and intrinsic value. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is responsible for enforcing the conservation order.
The MP’s are calling for an assurance from the HBRC that the Mohaka is in as pristine condition as the people of Hawke’s Bay believe and expect it to be. We expect that data from the monitoring of the Mohaka should be available to the people of Hawke’s Bay.”
Now, Foss & Tremain are not exactly what some at Council like to call “environmental terrorists.” They have been calmly meeting with HBRC to get to the truth on Bay water quality issues. For them to issue such a public statement, one can only assume that they are rather disturbed by what they are hearing … or not hearing.
To say the least, the HBRC has created a credibility gap between itself and the informed public on water quality and management issues. In the months ahead, individual Councillors will have a decision to make: Do they simply wish to circle their wagons and fend off legitimate public concerns, or will they affirmatively engage on the issues and commit themselves to whatever corrective measures are required?
Rest assured, lots of eyes will be watching in February.