It seems a reply to some of these comments is well overdue from me...
Firstly, thank you Felix and D M Robertson for your suggestions -- very helpful!
Responding to some of the other contributions...
Clem Smith wrote:
Your friend who suggested that the lake should be drained was hardly worthy of the breathless implication that he/she had said something original.
I didn't mean to breathlessly imply any such thing! You're quite right that (unfortunately) NZ has been doing this sort of thing for years. I included this suggestion merely to illustrate the divergence of opinion in terms of the preservation of Canterbury's natural landscape. Sorry if it sounded breathless!
Leila Claypoole wrote:
As a past resident of Fisherman's Point, I find it total absurd to suggest emptying the Lake.
Thanks for your comment, Leila. I also think it's an absurd suggestion (see above). I was merely reporting what someone else had said to me. I certainly don't think it's a good idea -- and I hope that I make this clear in the post.
Leila Claypoole also wrote:
The flounder season in 2005 was large the fish fleshier than seen for years, hence so much for pollution.
I'm not familiar with the life cycle of flounder, but it may be that the additional algal growth that arises from moderately eutrophic conditions is beneficial to them (although I wonder how the flounder population compares with the mid-nineteenth century when hundreds of fishermen worked the lake). At any rate, scientific studies have shown that populations of other animal species in the lake have certainly declined, as I said in the Avenues article (see #2 under the heading "More on Lake Ellesmere" at the end of my original post):
> Investigations by the National Institute of Water
> and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) show that both the
> number and growth rate of Ellesmere's long-fin eels
> have diminished significantly over recent years.
> Poor water quality has driven other fish species
> almost to the verge of extinction. For example, the
> number of spawning brown trout recorded in
> Ellesmere’s inflowing waterways has declined from
> 65,000 in 1949 to only 87 in 2004.
The pollution of Lake Ellesmere by nitrogen and phosphate compounds is an established scientific fact, I'm afraid. NIWA scientists have directly measured large amounts of these compounds in the lake water. And these scientists are certainly very worried about Ellesmere, as I reported in the Avenues article:
> NIWA scientist Dr Clive Howard-Williams has studied
> the lake for many years, and is unequivocal about its
> prospects: "Ellesmere will continue to deteriorate".
> Howard-Williams says that urgent action must be taken
> to halt the lake's decline. "It definitely won’t get
> better if we do nothing. Some intervention has to take
> place to slow the input of nutrients if we don't want
> the lake to get worse."
While informal measurements of pollution (such as the perception of catch size or fleshiness) are useful, it seems to me that we should pay most attention to proper scientific measurements, and to what our scientists have to say.
Leila Claypoole also wrote:
The Wairhoa Trust was set up in 2004 with an active membership working on the conservation of the Lake.
I wonder if you have read all of the material that I posted? In the Avenues article I interviewed Jason Arnold, the co-ordinator of the Waihora Ellesmere Trust (WET), and reported some of his comments. He certainly seemed to be worried about Ellesmere, saying:
> "Ellesmere is clearly unwell at the moment..."
> "If we can’t make the necessary improvements,
> then the lake is really in trouble."
Leila Claypoole also wrote:
With global warming the levels of the lake may well suprise.
You are clearly an optimist! Personally speaking, I wouldn't rely on one environmental disaster to cancel out another. Although if the lake levels undergo a significant rise then the residents of Lincoln and Prebbleton will certainly be surprised -- as it will flood their towns. We can but hope, I suppose...
Leila Claypoole also wrote:
The Salt level of the lake is carefully monitored and usually stands at 20%.
Errr... are you sure that the salinity of Ellesmere is kept at 20 per cent? Wouldn't that make it nearly six times more saline than normal seawater?
Many thanks for your comments Leila -- and everyone else. I am heartened that people are still interested in discussing this topic.
Jason Lea wrote:
Now is the time for the reserve bank to step up and make sure our money is edible.
Excellent point Jason -- I have often thought the same thing.
Apparently Christchurch is one of a few cities in the world that does not need to treat its water supply. The word is that Nitrates from Canterbury farming will have leeched into this supply in 20 to 25 years.
This neatly highlights the problem with environmental 'idealism' vs. 'pragmatism'. I would personally feel that a pristine water supply has an intrinsic value that must be protected. However my environmentally pragmatic acquaintance would point out that the cost of treating the Canterbury water supply can be accurately predicted (millions), and the benefits from fertilizer use in Canterbury can be accurately measured (billions). So from his point of view there is really no argument.
Talking to the scientists who study such things it seems that the current situation in Canterbury has all the ingredients for a real environmental crisis. It will be interesting to see what happens over the coming years.
I’m planning to do a bit more journalistic poking around into the water situation in Canterbury -- and I shall be sure to keep Public Address readers informed of any interesting findings.
Russell Brown wrote:
Trust you didn't mind me opening a discussion on your post
No problem, Russell.
Incidentally, more information about general water issues in Canterbury can be found at the Water Rights Trust website.
Judi Lapsley Miller wrote:
Also wondering if in the future, rising sea levels may cause sea water to wash into the lake rather than v-v...??
Wish I'd thought of asking this question to the NIWA scientists! Kaitorete Spit is relatively high (2 - 3 metres above sea level) so hopefully this won't be a problem. Of course, the spit is also rather permeable, so perhaps infiltration by seawater will be an issue.
Danyl has just provided me with a slightly updated version of his review. It reveals a few more interesting quotes from the book. The updated version has now been posted to Guest Speaker.
Really enjoyed this review, Danyl -- very nice work! Seems like a good time to start a new discussion thread.
Not lockwood... and not Gerry....
Bugger -- that quote sounded so very Gerry.
Could it be Katherine Rich?
Put us out of our misery, I beg you...
"Can we stop Don from giving speeches? Today's speech is about as exciting as watching paint dry. The speech delivery is too long, monotonous, slow paced, and he is having far too many stumbles."
I smell Gerry Brownlee on this one...
Just off the top of my head I can think of a few of our readers who grew up in a Christchurch state house and who are leading lives of impressive accomplishment.
Well, I didn’t grow up in Christchurch, and I don’t have a life of impressive accomplishment -- but I did spend my early childhood in a state house in West Auckland. Also my mother was on the DPB (on and off) for a couple of years after my parents’ marriage broke up. When I tell people this they often seem surprised that I am not in prison or -- at the very least -- on some sort of government welfare. But I am pleased to report that this has not been the case (unless you count the couple of years I spent working as a university lecturer).
What, exactly, were they thinking?
I imagine North & South's thought processes went something like this:
Help! Our readership is plummeting. We need to take drastic measures. How about running a sensationalist story? Perhaps something like: 'Asian Angst: is it time to send some back?'. "Hey Deborah, why don't you go off and concoct an article to match this headline."
By the way, I'm normally quite impressed by the standard of writing in North & South -– so this observation is made more in sorrow than in anger...