I’m not entirely sure what the Auditor-General knows about surface water management, but I guess it’s good news that this office, as announced in its 2010-2011 work plan (p65), is going to review the “effectiveness of management responses designed to maintain or enhance water quality.”

While the workplan doesn’t indicate specific regional councils or rivers to be reviewed, MPs Foss and Tremain seem confident that Hawke’s Bay will be examined. Says Craig Foss in a comment to BayBuzz: “…it is a fair bet that the management of major rivers in the various regions will get their attention. At the very least, Regional Councils which are charged with managing the country’s fresh water resources will, I am sure, be having a check of themselves to make sure they are filling their role as intended by Parliament.”

Only today at the Regional Council’s meeting of its Environmental Management Committee was there a great deal of boasting about the Council’s multi-disciplinary approach to the acknowledged pollution of the Taharua/Mohaka by dairy farmers. Unfortunately, the major action steps are unlikely to be decided before year’s end, given that apparently dairy farmers cannot be consulted between the onset of calving season and Christmas. Would any other major polluter be given such a “holiday?”

Councillor Gilbertson, while praising the approach of the HBRC staff, noted that it was unfortunate that this effort to address the Taharua/Mohaka had to be “triggered by a crisis.” It wasn’t clear whether he was referring to the public pressure we alluded to in our last post, or to the fact that HBRC’s own hearings committee, chaired by Councillor Christine Scott, only this very term gave consent to doubling the amount of nitrate fertiliser allowed on Taharua catchment dairy farms!

Here’s the full announcement as made on the Backing the Bay website of MPs Craig Foss and Chris Tremain:

Auditor General to audit fresh water management

Local Tukituki MP Craig Foss is very pleased that the Controller and Auditor General is proposing to start a performance audit on Freshwater quality in New Zealand: (the) Effectiveness of management responses.

“The stunning rivers of Hawke’s Bay are treasures. The Tukituki River has been under stress in recent years due to droughts, grazing, nutrients and pollution. We must be constantly vigilant that to ensure that all parties are doing their fair share to maintain the Tukituki.”

The AG has stated that: Deteriorating fresh water quality has been widely identified as one of the most critical environmental issues for New Zealand. This deterioration creates economic risks, social and cultural risks, and environmental risks. Regional councils are responsible for managing freshwater quality through administering the Resource Management Act. The audit will examine the effectiveness of management responses designed to maintain or enhance water quality.

Craig Foss says “I look forward to the beginning and findings of this audit. Whatever the outcome of the audit, I am sure that all involved will re-focus their attention of ensuring the Tukituki is able to be enjoyed by our children as many of us have enjoyed it in the past.”

Chris Tremain noted: “I have been concerned about changes to water quality at the headwaters of the Mohaka River. I welcome this initiative by the Auditor General as an additional tool for accountability to help protect our Hawke’s Bay rivers.”

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  1. i interviewed Derek Williams when he was running for Napier council a few years back and he seemed to know everything about water and rivers in the Bay….c'mon Derek..blog time..we know you're out there!

  2. Dang..just goes to show what happens when you don't check previous blogs…It's Derek-mania…you tell-'em, Derek!

  3. Thank you for your generous comments Rob.

    There are others not listened too who like me are long time trout fisherman who were trying to stop what has happened.

    They were prominant in the establishment of a Heritage order on the Mohaka and in opposing substandard wastewater discharges and unsustainable water takes on the Tuki and other HB rivers.

    Morry Black was an informed leading voice.

    Having watched 2 world rated trout fisheries that drew me to NZ and Hawks Bay 37 years ago being degraded since HBRC replaced Catchment Boards in 1989 Local Authority restucturing one hopes key members responsible for over ruling officers on water takes from the Tuki and those involved in late 1990's consents for upper Mohaka dairying and in recent times the Tuki review their positions with election nominations less 2 weeks away.

    Some senior members should stand down. Other experienced members should stay to steady the ship and guide it through the turbulance and onto a course of mitigation and recovery.

    This may require dairy operations stopped as was the case in similar circumstances on the Western side of Lake Taupo on fragile pumice

    granted consents a few years prior to those in the fragile upper Mohaka. There were problems in Taupo when Mohaka consents were granted.

    Regional Councils not acting as islands unto themselves could have avoided problems in HB and in other similar cases around NZ.

  4. A simple yes or no to what Rob?

    Your postings urged me to tell it how it is so I have and in the process acknowledged others unpaid commitment over a long period of time. Dave Renouf is another to add to Morry Black.

    For the past decade and a half with other individuals and concerned groupings all over NZ I have been telling our guardians of our communities health and well being and the environment we live, work and play in to do what they are elected and paid to do not give it verbal commitment every 3 years.

    Bay Buzz is doing the same in a never before encountered by authorities voice for facts to be told to the people which they have no disempowering control over.

    That is a big plus for democratic values when exercised without fear or favour

    As a former radio host in HB Rob you will be aware of the dark side of local governance and pro establishment media elements that serve

    to darken it further by influencing election outcomes by attacking some and denying rights of reply.

    There are many who voice opinions but few who do so via submissions and representations.

    More than 50% dont bother to vote but complain and snipe from the bushes. They are the cause of the effect of mediocrity in representation

    along with uninformed voting.

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