So far this summer the Horizons’ water quality testing has shown the river (estuary) to be Red on 6 weekly occasions; and Amber on a further 4. That’s 10 weeks out of 16, from 10/12/12 through 26/3/13. The sea has one Red and one Amber. Water testing has its delays, and may be misleading; over Easter, the water in the river was probably the cleanest I have seen it all summer!
I don’t know the location where water is tested, but I suspect Horizons follow the easiest route, with a sample taken from the bridge, and a sample taken from the sea down the end of Manga-Pirau (probably via 4WD down to the sea-edge!).
To answer PC: whilst I am human, and there has been the odd delay between extracting the info from the Horizon’s website, and posting my own-made colour-coded notice on the Notice Board, they have generally gone up each Saturday morning.
I have been actively watching their website since early November; the final week from the 2011-12 summer was displayed right through until the first result for this summer, 10/12/12 was posted. I have kept a written record of posted results.
With one weeks’ exception (see below), Horizons have been consistent with their weekly results (updated by each Saturday). The river (estuary) only had one Green before Christmas and your comment regarding Horizons not updating each week are not correct (excepting one week (7/2), where incomplete results across all testing sites in the region were posted over the weekend, and then revised midweek the following week – including changing Waikawa’s result).
This summer’s results are:
10/12/12 Beach: Green / Estuary: Green.
19/12: G / R
27/12: G / A
3/1/13: G / R
9/1: G / G
16/1: G / R
23/1: G / G
30/1: G / G
7/2**: G / R
13/2: G / R
20/2: A / G (I suspect these are back to front, as they are inconsistent with general pattern)
27/2: G / A
6/3: G / G
13/3: G / A
20/3: R / R
26/3: G / A
All dates are per Horizons’website; results usually published 2-3 days later.
Looking at the above pattern of Reds, these do seem to mirror dumps of rain, which means there is almost certainly a fair whack of farm-wash coming down the river!!
However, water testing results are only part of the equation. I have been holidaying here since 1970. In 1970, the sandbar across the river was bare, and spring tides washed across it. In 1970, most pine trees across the river either did not exist, or were much younger. [Refer the 1978-ish photo in the latest WBRA newsletter.] In 1970, where the river turns and finally heads inland, was a great sand dune (now a forestry block). All these had the effect of providing a great cycle of sand blowing and washing into the river, to be carried back down to the sea.
In 1970, the river below the current bridge (and also upstream past the village), was clean, firm sand. You could watch flounder scuttle across the rippled bottom. I recall the days tractors could safely negotiate across.
Now, the river south of the bridge, is up to 12 inches of soft slushy mud, with sticks and the occasional log). Pick up a handful, and the smell is most distasteful. The sandbar just down from the bridge is now a thinly disguised mudflat.
Most surprisingly, was the number of holiday makers that turned up for the boat-day, when my sign on the noticeboard clearly indicated the water-testing result that week, was red.
Now I am no ecologist. I have no scientific degree. I simply have my lifetime of accumulated experiences and memories. It’s called oral history. To other old hands that I share these with, there is always a voice of unaminity.
On the one hand, I am sure farming has contributed to the state of the river and water quality (just last week, I saw cows standing in the freshly cleared drain behind Sarah St. This drain exits via Manga Pirau stream, through Hank Edward’s reserve);
On the other hand I am convinced that ecological improvements (planting sand dune grasses; pine and conifer trees etc) to ‘stabilize’ the environment have altered the ecology of the river, by removing the great sand-cycle.
Case in point. The river mouth, the stretch that is exposed to the elements past the line of sand dunes to the north, presents the same attributes as what the river used to display further upstream.
And thirdly, I understand water is drawn from the river upstream for various farming purposes, resulting in a reduced average flow.
[Just wait, one day Horizons will spend maybe $50,000 of ratepayers’ taxes for a hotshot post-grad student working on their PhD to undertake a lengthy study to work out the reasons for the decline in the river-quality, something I have just documented over the course of two beers.]
In the meantime … what?