The spat between Hastings District mayoral contenders Sandra Hazlehurst and Damon Harvey over the industrial cesspit that is "Lowe's Lake" highlights that historic pollution is commonplace – and that councils are mainly reactive, not proactive, when it comes to cleaning up.
Sure, a report identifying the "lake" – really just a pooling of stormwaters – as a problem is "only" a year or so old.
But you can't tell me some officer wasn't well aware it was a festering problem being quietly overlooked – and probably would still be had not the Havelock North gastro crisis prompted a thorough investigation of water channels, above and below ground.
Just like the hundreds of properties throughout Hastings and Napier which are or potentially are affected by leachate from old dumps and residuals from agricultural operations and former industrial uses, the extent of which remained largely unmapped until councils were given a hurry-up some years ago to identify such hazards.
And realised severe liability issues might accrue if they didn't investigate properly. Nothing beats unforeseen costs in the form of a lawsuit for getting bureaucrats off their backsides.
Even so, I suggest there are dozens more "forgotten" dangers lurking not just in the cities but across the countryside, in the form of old sheep dips or timber treatment yards or "farm dumps", waiting for some unsuspecting local to have too close an encounter.
Yes, many genuinely are forgotten, for the people and industry that caused them have passed unremarked into history. But many more exist, on some site map or in someone's memory, and effectively sit in the "too-hard" drawer.
Meaning, councils don't pay people to investigate, because they don't have the budget.
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So it's only when the pollution hits the media fan, as it has with Lowe's Lake, that everyone suddenly acts keen as mustard to do something.
In this case, that both the mayor and her challenger have known of the issue for more than a year and done nothing smacks of the same attitude as was taken with the Brookvale bores, where incursion of pollutants was identified well before anyone got sick in Havelock – to no result.
Don't get me wrong; well done Mr Harvey for raising it. But waiting till the election to do so rather undermines any virtue.
Similarly, in Napier City they've known for a long, long time there were serious problems with the water and wastewater networks. But it wasn't until sewage started bubbling up out of manholes, and copiously spilling into the estuary, that they moved to do work to redress it.
You see the same reactive not proactive approach with another sort of pollution - rubbish.
Both councils moaned long and loud last year, when they rejigged their joint waste management plan, about the amount of greenwaste going to landfill – nearly half of all tonnage dumped.
Yet neither – let alone together – did anything about it, save to rather lamely urge residents to do something for themselves. Oh, and here's a council bin you can stick it all in.
They could, instead, have proactively invested in a regional composting facility. As you may recall, I crunched the figures at the time and if it wasn't quite commercially viable, it was close; and surely a small operational loss is better than paying more, and sooner, for another dump site to be built.
Then there's all our plastic waste, going nowhere since China closed shop. Any number of innovative recycling schemes are waiting for regional-scale trial.
But no. Too hard. Ignore it.
The lack of candidates willing to talk rubbish just emphasises the point. So much for "cleaning up our backyard", eh?
Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.