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.”