New Zealanders deserve fresh, clean water - Govt needs to deliver

  • 5/09/2019
  • Richie Cosgrove

Today's Government announcement has the potential to fix New Zealand's freshwater pollution crisis - but only if the right options are selected, Fish & Game New Zealand Chief Executive Martin Taylor says.

"New Zealanders deserve fresh clean water and we welcome today’s announcement. It contains a number of good options, which, if selected, will start dealing with the clean water crisis," Mr Taylor says.

"For example, we support the stance that, by 2025, regional councils will be required to have made final decisions on plans and actions that will improve freshwater ecosystem health.

"The focus on ecosystem health is long overdue, as are the new proposed planning processes that should force councils to change how they manage water.

"We also welcome the productive land package of $229 million which will support farmers’ transition to sustainable practices.

"However, we have concerns regarding a number of bad options around industry set standards and enforcement. These need to be rejected. 

"The reality is that some intensive dairying operations are heavy polluters who do not want strong, mandatory rules because they want to maximise profit margins."

An example of this is winter break feeding practice in Southland as pictured above right.

Martin Taylor says it is essential that the Government select the options which set mandatory, enforceable rules for intensive agriculture, as voluntary accords and unenforced Farm Environmental Plans have failed the country.

"Voluntary farm environmental plans have been around for decades and they are one of the main reasons for the current degraded state of our rivers and streams."

The NES is about holding the line and stopping degradation getting worse now, while the NPS is about delivering better water quality for all New Zealanders going forward.

"We also believe a Fresh Water Commission is a good idea worth further discussion."

A recent Colmar Brunton poll conducted for Fish & Game New Zealand showed that pollution of our rivers and lakes remains a top concern for Kiwis with two-thirds expecting the Government to put rules and regulations in place to protect water quality.

"Three quarters - 77 per cent - of those surveyed said they were extremely or very concerned about the pollution of lakes and rivers.

"These results show the depth of feeling kiwis have about the loss of what they considered their birthright - clean rivers, lakes and streams.

"Kiwis expect to be able to swim, fish and gather food from their rivers, lakes and streams. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle an issue Kiwis are deeply concerned about. Let's get this right."

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