The Country: Stream protection a murky reality - comment

By Mike Dickison

In June I spent all day standing in the Matarawa Stream on No3 Line, working with schoolkids who wanted to measure water flow and pollution levels.

The stream I was in was fenced, or rather "fenced": there was a single strand of electric wire, with the current turned off. The fence was only a foot high, and hoofprints on both sides of it showed that cows were freely wandering down to the water. In places it was only a metre from the bank, so wasn't protecting much of anything.

DairyNZ has proudly declared that 97 per cent of waterways on dairy farms are fenced, as part of a voluntary accord by farmers to counter the effects of intensive dairying. If you read the fine print, it's actually 97 per cent of "significant" waterways.

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