Johanna Knox tells us what’s wrong with our waterways and what we need to do make them swimmable for all our creatures, including us!
When we say ‘freshwater’ we mean inland waters that are not so salty like the sea. That’s lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and also underground water (aquifers). But here in Aotearoa, the name seems a bit strange… Our freshwaters aren’t so fresh anymore! A lot are dirty and dangerous.
When people your grandparents’ age were kids, they could play and swim in almost any waterways here. But not enough people looked after those waterways. Now a lot of them, especially in lowlands, are so full of poisons, weeds, and harmful germs, that you can get sick from swimming in them … And this problem’s getting worse. Still, at least humans have a choice about whether we go into the water. What about our freshwater birds, fish, and bugs? The waterways are their homes. They have nowhere else to go.
How did this happen?
Us humans take too much water out of our rivers, lakes and aquifers, for our farms and cities. That means the waterways run dry more often. Then we also pollute what’s left of them! Again, the pollution comes from farms and cities, as well as factories.
What can we all do?
The main way we can stop this happening is to tell the government that it has to protect our fresh water. The government needs to set a standard for how clean and healthy the waterways should be, and then make laws to say everyone has to be responsible for the waterways meeting that standard. And what should that standard be? Along with lots of other people, we say, ‘swimmable’. If kids like you, and your whanau and friends, can swim in our waters safely – then they’ll be safe for all the animals too!
Send the Prime Minister an important postcard
Use the postcard below – specially created for you by illustrator Gavin Mouldey – to tell the Prime Minister what you think.
Click on the postcard to download and then print it out. Don’t forget to colour it in to show how you want our rivers to look before you send it to the PM.