New data showing "polluted" water quality in the Karamu and Ahuriri catchments is "totally unacceptable" according to one regional councillor.
Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) on Sunday released its annual water quality monitoring data and data analysis by Cawthron Institute shows nationally water quality is the poorest urban waterways and a large percentage of rivers in catchments dominated by pasture are under pressure.
The Karamu and Ahuriri catchments were found to be the poorest.
Hawke's Bay Regional Councillor Craig Foss said it's disappointing that the region's urban streams were so bad.
"None of us should expect nor accept polluted water running through our cities," Foss said.
The best water quality is found at sites surrounded by native bush.
In the Ahuriri catchment the Taipo Stream HBRC fresh water quality and ecology monitoring site at Church Rd, a lowland urban site, is in the worst 25 per cent of all New Zealand testing sites for E. coli and is very likely degrading.
It is also in the worst 25 per cent for the black disc – a water observation taken by seeing how far away a black disc can be seen horizontally through the water – and turbidity – an index of cloudiness in the water.
It was also in the worst 25 per cent for ammoniacal nitrogen, dissolved reactive phosphorous and total phosphorous, in the worst 50 per cent for total nitrogen but in the best 50 per cent for total oxidised nitrogen – one area it is likely improving in.
In the Karamu catchment the Herehere Stream at Te Aute Rd – one of nine monitored sites in the catchment – it is in the worst 25 per cent of all sites for E. Coli, dissolved reactive phosphorous and total phosphorous and in the worst 50 per cent for ammoniacal nitrogen.
However, it is in the best 50 per cent of all sites for black disc, turbidity, total nitrogen and total oxidised nitrogen.
Cawthron freshwater ecologist Dr Roger Young said at national level analysis "we found the overall state of E. Coli, MCI (macroinvertebrate community index), ammonia toxicity, and DRP (dissolved reactive phosphorus) has not improved over the past 10 years and that more work and time is needed for the benefits of restoration efforts to become apparent."
Foss said: "Virtually every day we catch a glimpse of what can seem clean water running past our homes, and towns but closer inspection and evidence now shows that we need to get stuck in and clean up our urban water.
"The Karamu may look clean but the water quality at the middle and towards the coast is so negatively different than at the head waters, I am asking our own regional council, all councils and businesses to lift their game, and invest into cleaning, nurturing and treasuring our urban waterways."
Hawke's Bay Regional Council chief executive and Ministry for the Environment Freshwater Implementation Group member James Palmer said the updated data adds weight to a need for greater action.
He said the data provides further information on where the most degradation has occurred and shows the stress rivers are under following population growth and changes to land use.
"While the Government's Essential Freshwater package moves us in the right direction, to see meaningful progress in water quality is going to take time and will require a joined-up response from communities, industry, iwi, councils, and central government."