Ongoing Dairy Pollution ofTe Waikoropupu Springs Reserve

Point source dairy pollution at Pupu Springs Road, 26 March 2017

This photo shows a severely polluted Fish Creek as it slams into beautiful Fish Creek Springs (see upper right of photo) in Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve on 28 April 2017.

Fish Creek, which feeds directly into Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve, is being severely polluted by dairy farm runoff several times a month, even in light rain events, with E.coli >12,000/100mL at the point where Fish Creek flows into the Springs Reserve. The polluted water then heads straight into Fish Creek Springs. When brought to Tasman District Council’s attention, these high E.coli levels were determined by TDC on further analysis to be ruminants, such as cattle. Because Tasman District Council did not set up a water sampling programme to track this severe pollution, we are grateful that the nonprofit organisation Friends of Golden Bay (Inc) voluntarily stepped up to do the job.

We have been informed that Friends of Golden Bay is undertaking regular water sampling for E.coli from two locations of Fish Creek in Te Waikoropupu Valley. Here is a map of the sampling locations. Because it is vital that Fish Creek and Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve are protected from this ongoing pollution, we will be taking photographs and videos of some of the many point sources of pollution of Fish Creek and posting them by date, below. Please refer to the website of Friends of Golden Bay for more details of the results of their water sampling programme.

Fish Creek is a rare and fragile freshwater stream habitat containing threatened native fish and decapod species. Fish Creek was assessed in May 2013 as being of “high ecological value” due to its being the habitat for five species of fish (Redfin bully, Upland bully, Brown trout, Longfin eel, and Giant Kokopu) and also koura (freshwater crayfish) and Paratya (freshwater shrimp). Giant Kokopu is considered “rare” in Tasman District, according to Dr Trevor James of Tasman District Council.

This ongoing pollution to freshwater in the catchment of Te Waikoropupu Springs is just one of the many reasons why the public should strongly support the current application for a Water Conservation Order for the Springs.

Here is the Letter to the Editor of the GB (Golden Bay) Weekly (about this E.coli contamination to Fish Creek Springs) that was censored — the owner of the rag refused to publish it.

Dairy leadership has a lot to answer for regarding freshwater pollution

Rachel Stewart: Time to Get Tough on Polluters

28 August 2017

Photo taken 28 August 2017 showing dairy runoff polluting the white waters of Fish Creek Springs. The water sample taken a few minutes before this photo was snapped tested at E.coli 6,700 MPN/100mL. That’s more than 1200% of the safe level of E.coli.

Results of the water sampling for 28 August 2017. Here are the relevant hourly and dairy rainfall graphs for the area.

Upper Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd = E.coli 192 MPN/100mL
Lower Fish Creek at Springs Reserve = E.coli 6,700 MPN/100mL

More than 550 MPN/100mL is considered “high risk” of getting sick from swimming. This 6,700 measurement is more than 1200% of the safe level of E.coli.

As you can see, the E.coli pollution was severe where Fish Creek flows to Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve and straight into Fish Creek Springs, as compared to the E.coli result for the upper Fish Creek sampling site (Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd). That is most likely because upper Fish Creek receives limited dairy runoff from one dairy farm to the east, whereas Fish Creek as it enters Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve is subject to substantially more dairy runoff from two dairy farms (to the east and to the south of the Reserve).

These shocking levels of contamination have been occurring frequently for months, yet Tasman District Council won’t inform the public of what is being done to stop this ongoing, severe pollution of a national treasure, despite our requests for information.

To Carl Cheeseman, long-term Manager of Compliance at Tasman District Council — what are you doing to stop this ongoing severe E.coli contamination of Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve?

To Dennis Bush-King, the long-term Manager of Tasman District Council’s Environment & Planning Department — what are you doing to stop this?

To our Minister for the Environment Nick Smith — what are you doing to stop this severe E.coli contamination to Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve?

17 July 2017

Photo taken 17 July 2017 showing dairy runoff channel heading north from dairy farm into Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve. This channel as it enters the Fish Creek Springs (near wooden visitors’ walkway over the Fish Creek Springs) tested E.coli 3,200 MPN/100mL on 1st July 2017; 410 MPN/100mL on 17 July; and 2,400 MPN/100mL on 28 August 2017.
Photo taken 17 July 2017 showing the dairy runoff hitting the Fish Creek Springs in Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve.

Results of the water sampling for 17 July 2017. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area.

Upper Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd = E.coli 410 MPN/100mL
Lower Fish Creek at Springs Reserve = E.coli 1,100 MPN/100 mL

More than 550/100mL is considered “high risk” of getting sick from swimming. This 1,100 measurement is 200% of the safe level of E.coli.

27 May 2017

Results of the water sampling for 27 May 2017. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area. It was a light rain event.

Fish Creek at Springs Reserve = E.coli 9,500 MPN/100 mL

The recommended safe level for drinking is less than 1 count per 100 mL. More than 550/100mL is considered “high risk” of getting sick from swimming. This 9,500 measurement is more than 1700% of the safe level of E.coli. These astounding levels of contamination have been occurring with almost every rainfall event for months, yet Tasman District Council won’t even inform the public of what is being doing to stop this ongoing, severe pollution of a national treasure, despite our requests for information.

To Dennis Bush-King, the long-term Manager of Tasman District Council’s Environment & Planning Department — what are you doing to stop this?

17 May 2017

This is Pollution Pipe No. 9 (of 14) on Pupu Springs Road, with runoff contamination coming from the dairy farm to the east of Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve, on 17 May 2017.

Results of the water sampling for 17 May 2017. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area.

Location No. 1 (Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd) = E.coli 640 MPN/100 mL

Location No. 2 (Fish Creek at Springs Reserve) = E.coli 7,000 MPN/100 mL

The Springs Reserve E.coli number is again shocking and is happening frequently, even with light rainfall. The recommended safe level for drinking is less than 1 count per 100 mL. More than 550/100mL is considered “high risk” of getting sick from swimming, and such high levels put our threatened native fish in Fish Creek at serious risk, and also severely endanger the biodiversity in Fish Creek Springs, which is part of Te Waikoropupu Springs complex.

To Dennis Bush-King, the long-term Manager of Tasman District Council’s Environment & Planning Department — what are you doing to stop this?

What a thoroughly depressing sight of polluted water in Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve. Thousands of visitors to the Springs get to see this pollution several times a month after even light rainfall, as they walk on the Reserve’s path toward Fish Creek Springs. Photo taken 17 May 2017.

10 May 2017

Results of the water sampling for 10 May 2017. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area. As you can see, this was another “light” rainfall event. Tasman District Council, through its spokesperson Chris Choat, claims that this dairy runoff is “caused by heavy rainfall”. WRONG. Take a look at the rainfall charts for the dates of each of these really horrible E.coli numbers. This severe E.coli pollution is occurring regularly with even light rain.

Location No. 1 (Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd) = E.coli 200 MPN/100 mL

Location No. 2 (Fish Creek at Springs Reserve) = E.coli 12,000 MPN/100 mL

As you can see, the E.coli pollution was severe where Fish Creek flows to Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve and straight into Fish Creek Springs, as compared to the E.coli result for the upper Fish Creek sampling site. That is most likely because upper Fish Creek receives polluted dairy runoff from one dairy farm to the east, whereas Fish Creek as it enters Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve is subject to dairy runoff from two dairy farms (to the east and to the south of the Reserve).

To Carl Cheeseman, long-term Manager of Compliance at Tasman District Council — what are you doing to stop this ongoing severe E.coli contamination of Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve?

To Dennis Bush-King, the long-term Manager of Tasman District Council’s Environment & Planning Department — what are you doing to stop this?

To our Minister for the Environment Nick Smith — what are you doing to stop this?

28 April 2017

The above video shows a severely polluted Fish Creek as it slams into Fish Creek Springs in Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve on 28 April 2017. This is happening with almost every rain event, even very light ones.

Results of the water sampling for 28 April 2017. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area. As you can see, this was another “light” rainfall event. Two samples were taken at the Springs Reserve, one hour apart:

Location No. 1 (Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd) = E.coli 2,700 MPN/100 mL

Location No. 2 (Fish Creek at Springs Reserve) = E.coli 14,000 MPN/100 mL
Location No. 2 (Fish Creek at Springs Reserve) = E.coli >20,000 MPN/100 mL

On 6 April, Dr Mead had requested more detail from the laboratory when E.coli results were >2,000 MPN/100mL, so this is why we are now seeing these very high results. This is gross faecal pollution of Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve by dairy farmers.

Photo taken 28 April 2017. These are just two of the many pollution pipes on Pupu Springs Road, with polluted dairy runoff water heading to Fish Creek and on to Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve.
28 April 2017 upper Fish Creek showing pollution after light rain event.
30 April 2017 exact same spot at upper Fish Creek, without rain.

16 April 2017

Photo taken 16 April 2017 of Pollution Pipe No. 6 on Pupu Springs Road. It was a light rain, but enough to cause this pollution to head from the dairy farm to Fish Creek and then on to Te Waikoropupu Reserve.

12 and 13 April 2017

Photo taken 12 April 2017 at Pollution Pipe No. 6 on Pupu Springs Road.
Photo taken 13 April 2017 at Pollution Pipe No. 9 on Pupu Springs Road.

There was a big rain event on 12 and 13 April. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area. Because roads were temporarily flooded, water samples were not able to be delivered to Nelson for E.coli testing.

Photo of dairy runoff pollution taken 13 April 2017 from Balck Road. This water will be joining Te Waikoropupu River 60 meters on from the location of this photo.

6 April 2017

Photo taken 6 April 2017 at the southern boundary of Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve a few minutes before Dr Mead collected a water sample. Note the dark brown colour of Fish Creek with blobs of foam floating toward Fish Creek Springs.
Photo taken 6 April 2017 showing water pollution visible to tourists on Springs Reserve walking path.

On Thursday morning, 6 April 2017, we obtained photos and videos of severely polluted water flowing out from one of the several point source pollution pipes directing water from a dairy farm toward Fish Creek. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area. As you can see, this was a “light” rainfall event.

Results of water sampling:

Location No. 1 (Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd) = E.coli 945 MPN/100 mL

Location No. 2 (Fish Creek at Springs Reserve) = E.coli 12,000 MPN/100 mL

The Springs Reserve E.coli number is shocking. The recommended safe level for drinking is less than 1 count per 100 mL. More than 550/100mL is considered “high risk” of getting sick from swimming, and such high levels put our threatened native fish in Fish Creek at serious risk, and also severely endanger the biodiversity in Fish Creek Springs, which is part of Te Waikoropupu Springs complex.

Pollution Pipe No. 6


Pollution Pipe No. 7

Losing our lakes and rivers, one by one, to intensification of farming is at last beginning to impinge on the consciousness of the wider community, but why didn’t this happen years ago when the lakes and rivers were giving us all the signs that they were in trouble?

It’s way too late now and nursing many of these poor water bodies back to health is unlikely. Application of fertilisers, abstraction of water from our rivers to irrigate pastures, and even the importation of huge tonnages of palm kernel as supplementary feed, all facilitate a one-way movement of nutrients from the land into our waterways.

26 March 2017

Dairy farm pollution of Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd, 26 March 2017

On Sunday morning, 26 March 2017, we obtained photos and video of severely polluted water flowing out from one of the several point source pollution pipes directing water from a dairy farm toward Fish Creek. Here are the relevant hourly and daily rainfall graphs for the area.

Results of water sampling, with MPN meaning Most Probable Number:

Location No. 1 (Fish Creek at Pupu Springs Rd) = E.coli 885 MPN/100mL

Location No. 2 (Fish Creek at Springs Reserve) = E.coli >2000/100mL

Point source pollution pouring out of pipe from the dairy farm, 26 March 2017

The problem is not “the farmer” – it is pollution. We must at all costs avoid demonising farmers and farming, while at the same time going after polluters, and enablers of pollution. Dairy industry leaders are missing this important point, and seem to cast attacks on pollution as attacks on farming. This dooms the low impact farmers along with the high polluting ones.


Additional Articles:

Professor Paul Williams’s Comments re Takaka FLAG “Summary of Interim Decisions”

Hydrogeologist Andrea Broughton’s Comments re Takaka FLAG “Summary of Interim Decisions”

Friends of Golden Bay’s Feedback to Takaka Freshwater and Land Advisory Group’s November 2016 Interim Decisions Report

Andrew Yuill’s Feedback to Takaka FLAG’s Interim Decisions Report

An Impact Assessment of Fish Creek

Letter to the Editor of GB Weekly