The creator of an inexpensive floating water monitor suspects the Government is unwilling to fund a device that would show how bad our water is. Lynn Grieveson reports.
Regional councils are eyeing up an experimental floating water monitor that would enable them to "stake out" rivers and pinpoint polluters - but only if the developers can raise enough through donations for beta testing and commercial release.
Wairarapa farmer Grant Muir yesterday launched a PledgeMe campaign to raise cash for beta testing of the award-winning 'RiverWatch' device he and biologist son James developed in conjunction with Victoria University.
Muir said he suspected the Government was not keen on having the true state of New Zealand's rivers, lakes and harbours revealed because it knows there is a huge spend needed on infrastructure as well as potential limits on agricultural intensification.
"They know what's happening and all we can think is that up to now there hasn't been a willingness by government to get this data out there. I can tell you right now the data is bad, and is probably the worst in our cities, it really is," Muir said.
"I used to think it was mainly the farmers, but it's not. Some of the worst pollution is happening right under our noses … there are major problems in Manukau Harbour with heavy metals, E. coli, sewerage - and Porirua harbour is a cesspool, an absolute cesspool," he said.
"I think that is one of the reasons why we haven't received government input because government is thinking, firstly, 'It's going to cost us too much because we know the infrastructure in our cities isn't up to standard' – and, 'Gosh, what are we going to do if dairy production goes down?'"
"So the Government is looking at it that they are going to get hit at both ends."
Muir's solar powered device wirelessly uploads GPS-tagged data from five probes measuring water temperature, turbidity (murkiness), dissolved oxygen, conductivity and PH levels. It was awarded the 2016 World Wildlife Fund Conservation Innovation Award.