Greenpeace is calling for the Ruataniwha dam project in Hawke’s Bay to be scrapped in light of the latest lead on the gastro outbreak.
“River pollution from the Tukituki has been identified as a highly possible cause of the outbreak – the worst of its kind in our history,” said Greenpeace Agriculture spokesperson Genevieve Toop.
“The Ruataniwha irrigation dam will compound the pollution problem by driving intensive dairy farming in the Tukituki catchment. If ever there was a time to pull the plug on this scheme it’s now.”
A former GNS Science hydrogeologist says contaminated water from the Tukituki River could have infected the Havelock North water supply. Cows,sheep or deer are thought to be to blame.
“Greenpeace has been saying for some time that the Ruataniwha Dam will put local water sources at risk, because it will enable more dairy cows on the Ruataniwha Plains,” said Ms Toop. “What’s happened in the last week and a half is a massive wake-up call. The local council needs to consign the dam plan to the scrap heap.
“Human health must come before more industrial dairying,” said Ms Toop. “The health of our waterways must come before industrial dairying.”
Last week public health professor Michael Baker told Radio NZ that New Zealand’s drinking water is “under huge pressure from…intensification of dairying, which is obviously contaminating surface water a lot more.”
“Despite the risks, the Government is throwing over half a billion taxpayer dollars at big irrigation schemes, not just in Hawke’s Bay but across the country, and local councils are pouring in millions of dollars of ratepayers’ money. That money should instead be going into better, more ecological farming practices.
“We should be cleaning up and protecting our rivers and water supplies, not building giant irrigation schemes that will make the problem worse,” said Ms Toop.
“We can’t risk a repeat of what we’re seeing in Hawke’s Bay.”