Subject: Watch NZH Local Focus: Resident blames Waikato River dam fluctuations for wetland destruction
Watch NZH Local Focus: Resident blames Waikato River dam fluctuations for wetland destruction
This article and video are only a tiny bit of the full story.
Here is a brief summary of my take on the situation.
The gross loss of habitat in the upper Waikato River was predicted by our submissions to the Waikato Regional Council in 2002-3 during the commissioned hearing for Mighty River Power's 35 year consent application. This section of the river and the hundreds of acres in nearly 30 wetlands in this area between Aratiatia dam and Orakie Korako are being systematically destroyed in the interests of Mighty River Power profiteering (now Mercury power) and their ambition to maximise profits to themselves and new owners other than the NZ public who used to own NZED.
The area was renowned for it's tens of thousands of various varieties of ducks, along with endangered bittern, marsh crakes, rails, and associated terrestrial birds such as fern birds and grey warblers, tomtits, fantails and others normally associated with wetland and riverine border environments. That these wildlife populations were healthy was scientifically surveyed and verified in 1996. Theses species have now virtually been exterminated by these man made river fluctuations and it's resultant domino effects.
Perhaps the worst condemnation can be directed squarely at Waikato Regional Council which has denied the public and ratepayers their rights to a public 10 and 15 year review of the ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS of this consent which was the intent of the issued RESOURCE CONSENT.
Furthermore, the annual assessment of the state of the riverbanks and erosion has been left to MRP staff with public participation again being disallowed by MRP and WRC.. Many requests have been made over the 15 years since the issuing of the consent for myself and other persons who have intimate knowledge of the river and its environs to be participants in these annual jollities, and we fully expected the WRC to HONOUR their obligations to conduct full hearings within the recent time frames to verify the environmental effects had not been deteriorating. This abdication of responsibility by both MRP and WRC has resulted undeniably in severe destruction to the land, marine and borders of river, wetlands and associated natural landscapes such that most of the pre consent populations and habitats of the animals, fish ,birds and wetland vegetation has been extremely modified or destroyed with siltation and weed invasions rampant. The effects we see today were predicted by our family, the Wildfowlers Assn of NZ and others, many of us highly qualified to do so. The predicted destruction has now occurred and urgent action is required to rectify an environmental disaster which was avoidable and is repairable if immediate action is taken.
It is staggering to realise that DoC, NZ Fish and Game and Waikato Regional Council did not make substantial submissions during the RC application process, instead, leaving the objections largely to the public while separate discussions with the Applicant MRP were held behind closed doors prior to the public hearings.
The claims made recently by WRC that the high levels of Lake Taupo (causing foreshore erosion) were unavoidable because of a lack of ability to release enough water downstream via the Waikato river are false. I have made requests to WRC to provide monitored river flow and levels data over the time period when L Taupo was full and eroding the shores. WRC have so (3 months now) far been unable to provide full information of this data and this confirms in my opinion that WRC were not properly monitoring the activities of MRP (Mercury) and probably had no intention of restricting their damaging practices. I have plenty of photographic evidence of extremely low river flow levels as well as flood levels , both fluctuating substantially over the period L Taupo was filling and full.
While farmers get monitored by aircraft by WRC and suffered instant fines of up to $20,000 for any runoff into paddocks of cowshed effluent, the same Council has in full knowledge allowed over a 15 year period so far, the destruction of hundreds of acres of wetlands in the same catchments by a greedy corporate and seemingly without Duty of Care under the RMA and their environmental protection function.
The intent of the Wai Ora scheme to heal waterways over an 50 to 80 year time frame is insulting and expensive to the public and ratepayers and laughable when one understands the underhanded agenda the WRC allows to destroy the same catchments they claim to be working to protect.