Walking for Water Quality
If you want to see a badly polluted Canterbury river, take a Sunday drive and have a look at the Selwyn/Waikirikiri River. Just 20 years ago it was clear and swimmable. But now it has become a cess pit, destroyed by run-off from intensive farming and toxic algae.
To highlight the ruin of this once beautiful river, several dozen concerned people (including Forest and Bird members) walked down the length of the Selwyn from Glentunnel to Lake Ellesmere. This ‘Walk for Water’ protest took four days and covered over 60 kilometres, mainly along rural roads.
For those involved, it was a chance to express frustration and anger about the failure of government agencies to prevent the degradation of the Selwyn River and other lowland rivers on the Canterbury Plains.
Fish and Game says the Selwyn River was once one of the prime trout fishing rivers in the country. In the 1960s, it held an estimated 65,000 trout. But that has now been reduced to a few hundred.
There are also embarassing signs warning people not to swim in toxic places like Coe’s Ford and even Glentunnel, which was once a prime recreation spots for families.
Today the Selwyn is an indictment of environmental protection in New Zealand, and one of the most polluted rivers in the country.