US “Water Warrior” Urges Speak Up on Water Crisis

An American conservationist Erin Brokovich whose courage and victory over a corporate pollutant was made into a top Hollywood film has told a Water NZ industry conference that the water crisis its worsening. 
She says people and their communities must stand up and fight if the downward trend is to be stopped and reversed. 
The film “Erin Brokovich” released in 2000 told the story of an unemployed single mother who becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handed brings down a Californian power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply. Actress Julia Roberts portrayal of Erin Brokovich won an Oscar.
Now three decades later, 63 years of age and a grandmother of four, Erin says the water situation has “gotten much worse.”
In 1996 her fight won the day when the polluting power company in the town of Hinkley, settled for $500,000.
The town has gone and the polluting power company today owns the land and is under a 100 year clean-up order.
Stand Up and Fight
Now in 2023 she urged people to stand up and fight for water. Earlier in the 2023 Water Industry conference the delegates heard that threats, particularly nitrates from dairy effluent, were still happening.
A consultant Andrew Pearson told a workshop the level of uncertainty about what PFAS substances do to water, and to human health, required taking precautions.  In March, the US set what were called “extraordinary new limits” on PFAS in drinking water. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large, complex group of synthetic chemicals that have been used in consumer products around the world since about the 1950s. They are ingredients in various everyday products. For example, PFAS are used to keep food from sticking to packaging or cookware, make clothes and carpets resistant to stains, and create firefighting foam that is more effective. very much stricter than New Zealand guidelines.
The US limits on PFAs were much stricter than New Zealand’s guidelines, said Pearson. 
An Otago University senior research fellow Tim Chambers told the conference of increased nitrates, mainly from dairy herds and concern about human health.
A Danish study  published in 2018 found a significant increase in bowel cancer when nitrate levels were just 0.87 milligrams per litre of water and a 15 per cent increase at 2.1mg per litre. The current safe level in New Zealand, as mandated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is 11mg per litre.
A new analysis by Otago and Victoria universities of overseas studies, including the Danish study, suggested between 300,000 and 800,000 Kiwis might be exposed to potentially harmful levels of nitrates in drinking water that could lead to an increased chance of developing bowel cancer.
Meanwhile at this year’s Water Industry conference, Erin Brockovich told the audience “we must speak up.”
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3 Responses to US “Water Warrior” Urges Speak Up on Water Crisis

  1. Ben Hope says:

    Water was the forgotten issue in the 2023 election. It was number one I recall in the 2017 election campaign and Jacinda Ardern promised a clean up. Then again in 2020 and Labour ministers O’Connor and Parker repeated the promise. The promise was never honoured.
    Hey let’s not forget the John Key National government who sacked ECan – a democratically elected council – and put in their own state puppet commissioners to allow wholesale expansion of corporate dairying and influx of nitrates into the water..
    ECan has never recovered from that setback and takeover.

  2. Predator Pete says:

    We have our own Water Warriors such as Drs Mike Joy and Alison Dewes. Their efforts should be applauded.
    Sadly most of our scientists appear captured by the agency or organization that employs them.
    As with Erin Brockovich, science is funded by industry.
    Our structures for protecting freshwater are flawed; Mfe produces standards and regulations which regional councils circumvent to benefit self and agribusiness interests.
    Laws without enforcement are meaningless, as our freshwater laws appear to be.

  3. Charles Baycroft says:

    The dangers of fresh water pollution with nitrates and other toxic chemicals are well recognized but most people do not seem to care.

    Bowel cancer is very common in regions of New Zealand where nitrate levels are known to be elevated but our “health authorities” do not admit that there is a link.
    When I asked the Minister of health and Director General what they proposed to do about the excessive rates of bowel cancer in areas with higher nitrate levels in water, the reply was “EARLIER DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT”.

    Apparently, it is better to ignore the prevention of bowel cancer in our so-called “health system”.

    There are “regulations” to help prevent people from being harmed by smoking, alcohol, motor accidents and work accidents by imposing financial costs on people and generating more government revenue.

    The people we employ to improve health are more influenced by revenue than the health of the people who they are supposed to be working for?

    The problem with reducing the excessive exploitation and degradation of our fresh water resources is that it would also reduce business profits, GDP and GOVERNMENT TAX REVENUE.

    The politicians and bureaucrats we keep employing value revenue more than conservation of natural resources and human health.

    The only way to change this is to replace these current employees with new ones.

    The only way to achieve this is to become more active, involved and influential in the major political parties whose influential members and funders decide which political celebrities will be selected, supported and promoted to be elected by the

    Our system of representative government enables the minority of people who are influential in the successful political parties to decide how the country and the rest of the people will be governed.

    It also allows other people to join and become influential members of successful political patties to get the sort of government they would prefer.

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