In the last two weeks, roughly 4500 adults and children have been struck down with a waterborne gastro illness found in Havelock North’s water supply.

That’s a third of the town’s entire population.

Most likely source? Ruminant farm animals - quite possibly cows.

The crisis has sparked concerns about industrial agriculture - not just in the Hawke’s Bay but across New Zealand.

Leading freshwater scientist Mike Joy says this is a case of water mismanagement “coming home to roost….we are seeing the legacy of not looking after our water”.

Public health professor Michael Baker says New Zealand’s drinking water is “under huge pressure from…intensification of dairying, which is obviously contaminating surface water a lot more.”

The reasonable thing to do in the face of the Hawke’s Bay crisis would be to say: “enough is enough, it’s time to start putting human health and the health of our waterways before industrial agriculture.”

A big part of that is ditching the Ruataniwha Dam scheme.

The Ruataniwha Dam is a golden ticket to more intensive dairying in the Hawke's Bay. It will enable more dairy cows on the Ruataniwha Plains, which will put local water sources further at risk. Try telling that to the men, women and children who’ve spent the last few days moving from bed to toilet and back again.

Put simply, irrigation enables more industrial dairy farming, and more industrial dairy farming contaminates our waterways.

Remember that one dairy cow excretes the faecal bacteria equivalent of 14 people, which means the national dairy herd produces as much faecal bacteria as 90 million people every single day. And most of that is not going through a sewage treatment plant.

We can’t risk a repeat of what's happened in Havelock North. Thousands of you agree. In the last 24 hours over 4,000 people from around the country have emailed Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillors directly to urge them to pull the plug on the dam.

Send the councillors a message now and ask them to do the sensible thing and drop the dam.

If HBRC gives Ruataniwha the go-ahead, it will also be seen as a green light for other big irrigation schemes around the country.

It’s crucial the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme does not get off the ground.

Click here to send a message to the council now.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council should do the right thing, and announce that the dam won't go ahead- PULL THE PLUG HBRC!