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Government vows that by 2040, 90% of New Zealand’s rivers will be ‘vaguely liquid in nature’
February 2017

Environment Minister Nick Smith says the country's rivers will "almost universally" be swimmable by 2040, but urges New Zealander's not to drink from them.
Environment Minister Nick Smith says the country's rivers will "almost universally" be swimmable by 2040, but urges New Zealander's not to drink from them "under any circumstances."
The National Government has fronted up with a bold election year commitment today, with Environment Minister Nick Smith saying that new targets will see 90% of New Zealand's rivers attain a vaguely liquid consistency by the year 2040, down from the current 95%.

At a West Auckland press conference, Smith and the Prime Minister, Bill English, jointly announced the policy, saying that it would be an "extraordinary" achievement to keep the percentage of our rivers and streams that are liquid above 89% more than 20 years from now.

"We think that'd be pretty good," said English. "You have to put that in perspective. That's only a 5% or so decline in liquid rivers over a period of 23 years."

He said that the Government would be working hard over the coming decade to ensure New Zealand's rivers "don't all deteriorate into a kind of solid brown sludge."

"We anticipate that 90% or so of rivers will have some kind of liquid in them, somewhere," he added. "Digging a little to get it should be no problem for good-spirited, outgoing kiwi families."

Some of the new targets would also be achieved by redefining the Environment Ministry's definition of a "swimmable river."

"What we're saying is, that, for too long, the definition you or I might have of swimmable, is not consistent with the Government's definition of swimmable," he explained. "You might see a river, like this river behind me, and say 'well that's swimmable, it's water, I could swim in that', and that's just common sense. What you might not know, is the Environment Ministry would define it as not swimmable, just because you have a high chance of getting a campylobacter infection."

"Campylobacter has nothing to do with swimming," added Nick Smith. "The way we see it, if you can paddle your arms about and get some movement, that's swimmable."

Smith said it was even possible that some rivers classified as not wadeable could still qualify as swimmable.

"It's much easier to generate more force while swimming, as opposed to wading," he said.

As a close to the press conference, English had Smith demonstrate the "swimmability" of the West Auckland river where they held their press conference.

Smith shed his suit and stripped down to a pair of boardshorts, before diving into the river. He violently collided with the solid surface, and screamed in agony. Eventually, he was able to shuffle his way into the sludge, and slowly use his arms in a swimming motion to dig through the river to the other side, whereupon he gave a tired thumbs up.

Nick Smith is in hospital this evening in a serious but stable condition.

Lovely piece of satire from The Civilian. For more see www.thecivilian.co.nz

 
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