Responding to errors in the Press

By Daniel Collins 31/03/2010


I had a chat with David Williams of the Christchurch Press last Thursday. He was interested in my previous post about the ‘70%’ error in the Creech Report. He followed up on it and wrote an article in today’s paper. He rang around and confirmed my analysis. Unfortunately there are two things I’ll have to take issue with:

1. While it is true my day job is at NIWA, as I write in the ‘About’ page for transparency, I blog as an individual. Nothing I write or say in connection with my blog reflects NIWA’s position in any way. I tried to stress this both in email and verbally before we talked. Unfortunately, the Press article does not get this very important point across. I am a hydrologist by dint of my PhD, not my employer.

2. The Press further states: “He [apparently that’s me] said the best measure of freshwater resource was precipitation, including snow.” This is not quite right. The resource is what we can use, and we cannot use all rain and snow. The best measure of resource is what we can abstract, and that is surface and groundwater flows. A lot of precipitation is unusable by us. We can abstract water stores too, but only for a limited time, and I disregarded that.

It now remains to be seen how these issues propagate through the hydro-media cycle, and whether this erodes my interest in engaging with the media in the future.