Water Pollution Through Urban and Rural Land Use and Freshwater Allocation in New Zealand

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Water pollution through urban and rural land use and freshwater allocation in New Zealand New Zealand has 425,000 kilometres of rivers and streams, almost 4,000 lakes larger than 1 hectare in size, and about 200 groundwater aquifers (Ministry for the Environment, 2010). By international standards, freshwater in New Zealand is both clean and in good supply. However, some aspects of water quality are getting worse in areas dominated by intensive land use. Demand for water is increasing, particularly in areas that are already water-stressed. Water pollution is becoming an ongoing problem for New Zealand. Both Urban and Rural land uses are creating pollution in our water and degrading the quality of our water. Growing demand for water resources in many parts of New Zealand during the last two decades has increased competition and conflicts between different stakeholders for access to scarce surface water and groundwater resources. To try to enable more sustainability in the use of our freshwater, we need to learn to balance and control how much water we use and where it is most needed. Poor or declining water quality has already created direct costs, such as the nearly $450 million allocated over the next 10 to 20 years to the clean-up of Lake Taupo, Rotorua Lakes and the Waikato River, and can constrain economic opportunities (Ministry for the Environment 2010). In New Zealand, it is increasingly recognised, including by government, that water resource allocation and water quality are issues of national importance. Agriculture is frequently portrayed by New Zealand media as a major user of water and a major contributor to worsening water quality. (R. Cullen, 2006). Ministry for the Environment (1997, p. 88) said that: “ Water quality is generally high around the coast, in deep lakes, and in the headwaters of most rivers, and in many cases this is maintained into lowland areas. However, water quality deteriorates in streams, rivers and lakes which drain agricultural catchments, with agricultural run-off causing elevated nutrient and sediment loads.”

Water Quality
"Water quality" is a term that is based upon the characteristics of water in relation to values of what is suitable for human consumption and for all usual domestic purposes, including personal hygiene. Components of water quality include microbial, biological, chemical, and physical aspects. Microbial aspects means that drinking water should not contain bacteria that would indicate excremental pollution, the primary indicator of which are coli form bacteria that are present in the faeces of warm-blooded organisms. Biological aspects show that parasitic protozoa are also indicators of water quality. Drinking water sources that are not likely to be contaminated by fecal matter should be used where possible due to the lack of good indicators for the presence or absence of pathogenic protozoa. Chemical mean that chronic health effects are more common than acute effects because the levels of chemicals in drinking water are seldom high enough to cause acute health effects. Since there is limited evidence relating chronic human health conditions to specific drinking-water contaminants, laboratory animal studies and human data from clinical reports are used to predict adverse effects. Physical aspects of the water quality means the color, taste, and odour of water can be monitored. Inorganic compounds such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, copper, iron, and zinc are generally detected by the taste of water, and contamination with the oxygenated fuel additive MTBE has affected the taste of some water. Freshwater Allocation

Growing demand for water resources in many parts of New Zealand during the last two decades has increased competition and conflicts between different stakeholders for access to scarce surface water and groundwater resources. However, while the RMA planning framework is innovative in a number of important respects, regional councils have evidently found it...
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