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Discolouration and smell caused by weed spray: GDC

A CONCERNED resident of Gisborne who drives past Reynolds Drain on Innes Street daily noticed a horrible smell and discolouration of the creek about a week ago, which was caused by Gisborne District Council spraying weeds with glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup.

GDC 4 waters operations manager Chris Hopman said they maintain a network of 330km of open drains that run alongside roads and across private farmland and a part of this maintenance includes spraying twice a year to keep them free from weeds.

“Our contractor sprays with a broad-spectrum herbicide, glyphosate (Roundup), in spring and autumn.

The concerned resident got in contact with The Gisborne Herald because they were concerned about the spraying and was not sure if it was the Gisborne District Council or another party that carried out the work.

“I just think that it would be better for the environment and the waterway if businesses around the area or a group organised a working bee to clear the weeds from the river banks rather than spraying glyphosate/Roundup to control the weeds,” they said.

“We use Roundup as it is one of the safer chemicals to use in waterways. Adjoining land owners have the option of mechanically maintaining the drains themselves if they prefer this to glyphosate,” Mr Hopman said.

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, including in New Zealand. It kills a wide range of weeds that can affect production on farms, orchards and gardens if left unchecked.

The herbicide is used in about 90 products, with Roundup being the most recognised brand.

Gisborne District Council also spray in streams where watercress grows but will put signs up advising people to not pick it.

It is not safe to pick any watercress from roadside drains or private property unless it’s on your own land and you know it’s free of spray.

Also don’t buy watercress unless you know where it has been picked from.

Be aware that farmers also spray their drains on the Poverty Bay Flats for weeds and they don’t put signs up warning they have sprayed.

ROUNDUP WARNING: Gisborne District Council has been spraying public drains like Reynolds Drain in Innes Street with glyphosate (Roundup) to control the weeds as part of their maintenance. Picture by Liam Clayton