Waterways under microscope

Could be worse — should be better.

That’s where Queenstown-Lakes’ waterways rank in the contamination stakes.

It’ll be of no consolation to those Queenstown residents who’ve had to boil water since September because of cryptosporidium contamination, but large chunks of New Zealand have far bigger issues.

A major report on the state of the country’s waterways and catchments, released yesterday, considers levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, E.coli and sedimentation against the government’s national policy on freshwater management.

Research lead Dr Ton Snelder tells Mountain Scene the Southern Lakes are compliant with national ‘‘bottom lines’’ for nitrogen and phosphorus.

But for E.coli, which indicates faecal contamination and there fore the risk of pathogens such as cryptosporidium, catchments in the Queenstown-Lakes are at the lower end of the scale, but still above the levels set by the policy statement.

Snelder: ‘‘It does not mean that everywhere in the catchment has a problem.

‘‘Rather it is saying that reductions are required in the catchment — the exact locations where those reductions should be achieved was not part of the study.’’

And while the study identified where E. coli exceeded national bottom lines, it didn’t look at how to reduce the problem.

Otago Regional Council policy and science GM Anita Dawe says staff need time to review the report before responding.

Queenstown’s council was unable to respond by Scene deadline.

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