The nitrate experiment
For decades scientists have known that increased nitrate levels in freshwater have a profound impact on the ecology of freshwater systems and there is growing evidence of the impact on human health. Despite this, and despite our continued belief in the image of a clean, pure New Zealand, we embarked upon a multi-generational experiment by spreading millions of tonnes of synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser across our lands. Now the evidence of the harm is upon us. Will our governing structures and associated institutions be up to the task of acting, or will the cost be passed on to future generations?