Ongoing Dairy Pollution ofTe Waikoropupu Springs Reserve

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

Fish Creek, which feeds directly into Te Waikoropupu Springs Reserve, is being severely polluted by dairy runoff several times a month when it rains, with E.coli >2000/100mL 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. Here is a photo of dairy pollution to Fish Creek taken by the late Gerry Draper as long ago as December of 2012.

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. The amount of damage to Fish Creek depends on the concentration and duration of the pollutant. In some instances, very high concentrations of nitrate-N or E.coli might pass through the creek in a short time, with potential to kill off a wide variety of important 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.

Dairy leadership has a lot to answer for regarding freshwater pollution

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 945/100 mL

Location No. 2 (Fish Creek at Springs Reserve) = E.coli 1200/100 mL

Those are high E.coli levels. More than 550/100mL is considered “high risk” of getting sick from swimming, and such high levels put our threatened native fish at serious risk.

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.

Rachel Stewart: Time to Get Tough on Polluters


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