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Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on December 08, 2008

New Zealand, December 8: New Zealand water ways are polluted to the point where they are unsafe to swim in or drink from. A study of the popular swimming spots found them to be sewage dumps chugging with treated waste and sediment run-offs.

In the survey carried out by Consumer New Zealand, samples of 501 beaches lakes and rivers in and around the country were taken. The results were dismal, with nearly one third of the waters found in a sad state.

Suzanne Chetwin, Consumer New Zealand’s chief executive, stated that many locals and tourists fall sick after swimming in the contaminated water. They suffer from flu-like symptoms and do not realize it is the water which is the culprit.

She further declared that “For a country that is promoting itself green, our beaches should be a lot safer than they are.” The government of New Zealand had not only failed to improve the water quality, but on the other hand rivers and streams had worsened.

The water in the rivers and streams of the region, which is home for about fifty percent of the dairy farms, have deteriorated. The bacteria pollution, untreated sewage, industrial effluents discharged into the waterways endangers lives. It puts a question mark on their use for recreational purpose like swimming.

The Green Party, in an effort to strengthen environmental laws around water pollution, intends offering a financial package to the Council to upgrade the sewage treatment plants. Russel Norman, co-leader of the party, emphasized that “New Zealand is literally sick because of rivers and lakes full of dairy effluent and human sewage. Kiwi kids are getting ear eye and skin infections and campylobacter and diarrhea as a result of swimming in what was once beautiful river or beach.”

Dwelling on the grim picture, Norman said that summer was all about children and adults surfing in “Clear rivers and crystal clean beaches and catching fish for dinner. Instead the reality of ‘clean green’ New Zealand is that our lowland rivers are full of cow effluent, our beaches are contaminated by human sewage and our fish stocks are depleted.”

The image of New Zealand has taken a severe beating and its tourism industry has suffered a set back. The environment minister Trevor Mallard has called for strict action against the worst polluters. He has promised to clean rivers to ensure they are all safe for swimming within a generation.

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