Plans for a national water watchdog have been welcomed by the mayor – but with a warning.
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett has embraced government plans to approve a dedicated watchdog and new water regulations.
But he cautioned costs could be an issue for council trying to reach “new benchmarks”.
“The devil could be in the detail … “There is still a long way to go on this issue.
“Council will need to ensure the standards and timeframes are set appropriately so that Marlborough can afford the investment required to meet the new benchmarks,” he says.
Around 34,000 people across the country become ill from their drinking water every year.
Many thousands must boil their water to drink it safely, including Seddon where a boil water notice is still in place.
Marlborough District Council staff are working with officials from the Ministry of Health to ensure water from the new multi-million-dollar water treatment plant meets stringent safety requirements.
Mayor Leggett says the council supports a move from central government to “strengthen its leadership role.”
“It’s great to see that this step change, initially at the regulatory end, is finally occurring,” he says.
Minister of Health David Clark says public safety is a non-negotiable priority.
“Access to safe, clean drinking water is a birth-right for New Zealanders and a key concern for communities up and down the country. Wherever they live, consumers and communities expect to be able to turn on the tap and drink the water without fear of getting ill.”
Fear of suffering a fatal bleed has compelled a fourth-generation Picton farmer to ditch meat for good.
Dawn Chorus chairman James Wilson, 78, suffered two embolisms and believed he was at risk of an internal bleed.
Scared he might die, the conservationist made a nerve-wracking decision, to stop his blood thinning medication.
Once a confirmed “anti-vegan” the father of four adopted a whole-food plant-based lifestyle (WFPB).
“I suffered a pulmonary embolism after an operation for a snapped Achilles tendon.
“Twenty years later I suffered a second, more minor embolism, and due to my history, I was put on warfarin “for life”.
“My health and well-being were less than adequate on this medicine and I worried that I might well suffer a fatal internal bleed.
“Despite medical warnings to the contrary, due to the damage of blood vessels around my heart, I resolved to go off Warfarin, he says.
James, who says he has lost 20kg, has written a book, Plant Paradigm, about his efforts in a bid to encourage others to follow in his footsteps.
“Plant Paradigm, while forcibly putting the case for a whole-food plant-based lifestyle, includes practical answers to many of the frequently asked questions expressed by people considering a change to their way of living,” James says.
A radio interview was the catalyst for his new eating regime.
James says he heard an interview where a doctor spoke of damaged blood vessels being repaired in people following a whole plant food-based diet.
It took him six weeks to settle into the new regime and says he has noticed a dramatic cut in the number of viral illnesses he gets.
“As soon as the interview was over, I made an immediate switch, I was lucky that I was driven by the fear of death.
Subsequently, I feel something like ten years younger than I did, I have suffered almost no colds, no flu and no other similar ailments that I had previously suffered from and considerably less than are normal for a man of my age,” he says.
James says while most of his friends have stuck to their non-vegan ways, some are “closet” vegans.
“I also was upset by many people who were super critical of me in the early days and wanted them to read my reasons for going vegan.
“Then as I aged and became interested in the ecology and finally recognised the cruelty imposed on all farm animals by all farmers.
“So, I guess I started writing it with anger, but by the time I published it the world had moved on
“Ultimately I published it to simply encourage people to go vegan for the pragmatic reasons of health, environmental relief and the avoidance of animal cruelty.”
Marlborough Media has two copies of James Wilson’s new book, Pant Paradigm, to give away.
Picton’s air quality is to be put under the microscope in a bid to better understand the town’s worst pollution offenders.
Along with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Marlborough District Council staff have started a year-long study.
Several air quality transmitters and meteorological stations have been installed around the area.
The transmitters will record air quality through both a winter and a summer, operating from July until the end of winter 2020.
Council’s Environmental Scientist Sarah Brand says the study will enable a better understanding of the area’s sources of air pollutants and their significance throughout the year.
“Picton is a unique location, and with population and tourism growth combined with port and industrial activities, we need a greater understanding of the town’s air quality issues,” she says.
Fed-up Picton residents approached council with their concerns last year. The new transmitters are part of the council’s response to pollution concerns.
Continuous monitoring will provide a detailed record of both particulate and gases and where they originate from.
“Previous monitoring revealed that Picton’s topography plays an important part in air movement over the town, so it’s hoped the study will also provide a more detailed understanding of air flows over the area,” Sarah says.
“The study was developed to help address community concerns over the town’s air quality and its sustainable future.
“It has been encouraged and supported by a project team including Council, Te Atiawa, Port Marlborough, the Harbour Master, and community representatives Captain Paul Keating and Mr Brent Yardley.”
Fears of rodents reaching plague-like proportions could become a reality in the region as Marlborough feels the bite of a long, dry summer.
A lack of rain at the season’s end has created the perfect storm for the nasty critters.
A pest expert is warning the problem will quickly get worse if people don’t take action.
He warned the problem would not disappear unless urgent action was taken.
Spiderban Marlborough owner and pest control expert John Sigglekow says the “fully developed” rodent population has become a major issue early this season.
“People need to look at what they’re going to do around longer-term consistent maintenance for rodents going forward,” John says.
“As it gets deeper into winter, rodents are going to become more and more of an issue.
“As it comes into summer, it’s the devil in the deep blue sea.
“You come off the pitchfork and get thrown into the ocean with the ants and the cockroaches and the wasps and everything else that’s going to go berserk.”
John says a mega mast season, when plants produce a bumper crop of seeds and fruit, gives rodents plenty to feast on.
Five rodents can produce the equivalent of 75,000 droppings and 27 litres of urine within a year, enough to turn a roof space into a sewer, John says.
“Rat bite fever, Leptospirosis, there’s a whole lot of things you can catch from rats,” John says.
“If you get bitten or scratched by a rat or a mouse, you’re going to need some heavy antibiotics.
“Even cats and dogs that have confrontations with large, aggressive rodents are at risk.”
There are numerous known pathogens that can spread directly from rodents to humans and many more that can be spread by the mites, lice and louse the rodents are typically infested with.
Rat fleas spreading the bubonic plague is a widely known example.
The rodents are omnivores and also pose a real danger to native wildlife, not just eating birds and chicks but also in competition for the same food source.
“It’s pretty disturbing when you get into it,” John says.
He says the lack of rain meant rodents were not drowning in their burrows as they usually would.
“Also, because of the long hot summer that we had, very dry, without the necessary rain that was to come in later in that season. Which has meant that all the mice that would have drowned in the burrows, simply haven’t died out.
“They’ve all reached full sexual maturity and had their own babies,” John says.
He says Marlborough needn’t fear ‘cat-sized’ rats, but they’re “relatively large”, some of the larger rats can get up to 500 grams or the weight of half a block of cheese.
“It’s a big problem, not so much from a predatory point of view but more so for a hygiene and home maintenance perspective.
“The main thing is that you take the baiting around your property seriously so that you’re not just doing piecemeal.
The most common rats in New Zealand are the Ship Rat/Roof Rat (Rattus Rattus), and the Water Rat (Rattus Norvegicus).
Roof rats are incredibly good climbers
“It’s a busy old time for pest control probably for the next decade with the way the climate is changing” says John who will be selling rodent control gear at the Marlborough Home and Garden Show on 5 July.