Two weeks ago, BayBuzz posted on the state of Tukituki water quality. One incumbent HBRC Councillor (McGregor) defended the current quality of the river (no other incumbents chose to comment); several challengers said he was … well, all wet.
Then, miraculously there appeared about a week later (Sept 12) a “Factsheet” prepared by HBRC staffer Murray Buchanan purporting to clarify matters related to wastewater discharges into the river, as well as the overall condition of the Tukituki. The “Factsheet” was sent to all HBRC Councillors, as well as current candidates for that council.
This so-called “Factsheet” is a classic example of disinformation.
Just to be clear, “disinformation” is the use of false or misleading information to confuse or thwart accurate and objective assessment of a situation.
For example, the “Factsheet” cites measurments taken ABOVE the discharge point from the Waipukurau sewage facility to assert the high compliance rating of the water.
For example, a previous monitoring site (site 25 at Tapairu Road) 3km downstream from the discharge point (that is, the site that matters most), has been removed! Measurements from this site previously indicated unacceptable contamination levels for E. coli and nutrients.
For example, the “Factsheet” focuses on E. coli levels to makes claims about water quality, when this focus alone ignores other hazardous and destructive pollutants, from nitrogen and phosphorus to other pathogens injurious to health.
For example, the “Factsheet” dismissively implies that the Environment Court essentially adopted the consents related to Waipawa and Waipukarau sewage discharges “as issued by Council,” when that is patently not the case. Over constant opposition from the HBRC, submitters won substantial stiffening of the consents, which are now being violated regularly.
For example, the guidelines the water supposedly meets, and even guidelines the water might meet if treatment plants are upgraded by an Environment Court-ordered deadline of 2014, are themselves far short of internationally-recognized and applied standards.
Most disturbing, given the reassurances from HBRC that the water is just fine, is the refusal of HBRC to make available to the interested public the actual end of pipe contaminant measurements it possesses. One would think HBRC would be proud to share the hard data.
So BayBuzz is left with these questions:
1. Why isn’t the actual monitoring data (not compliance summaries) made readily available so that it can be objectively assessed?
2. Why has downstream monitoring site 25 been removed, and what would monitoring at that location tell us right now, today?
3. Did Mr. Buchanan dream up the idea for this “Factsheet” on his own, or was he instructed to prepare it by a HBRC Councillor?
4. Does the new HBRC CEO, Andrew Newman, understand any of these issues and, if so, when will he publicly address them?
Perhaps at the Making Waves forum for HBRC candidates on Thursday 7pm at the Havelock Community Centre, one of the incumbent Councillors will be kind enough to address these questions.