Politicians Must Act On Young Generation's Call For Clean Water

  • 13/10/2016

Politicians from all parties are being urged to act decisively to improve the quality of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and streams and protect public health following today’s plea to a select committee from the student-led Clean Water Campaign.

Choose Clean Water campaigners Marnie Prickett, Kyleisha Foote and Tom Kay today appeared before the Local Government and Environment select committee, calling on MPs to reject the government’s controversial standard requiring freshwater to be only wadeable.

Students from Kapiti College also made a submission on water quality to the select committee.

Choose Clean Water says all political parties should find the courage to protect freshwater for the next generation and require all waterways to be swimmable.

Marnie Prickett told the committee the government’s proposed wadeable standard is unacceptable and poses a public health risk, particularly for children. She told the select committee that wadeable means that one in every 20 people using a waterway risks falling ill from campylobacter infection.

Choose Clean Water asked the committee to refer the water quality issue to the Health Select Committee.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson, who attended today’s select committee hearing as an observer, says the message delivered to MPs was powerful and direct.

“The submissions from the Choose Clean Water campaigners and the Kapiti College students were eloquent, impassioned and moving. Select committee members need to pay careful attention to what the next generation is saying as these young people have the most to lose,” says Mr Johnson.

Bryce Johnson says the MPs should take careful note of the fact that the Choose Clean Water campaign is being driven by young New Zealanders who are seriously worried about the country they will inherit.

“Young people have today bluntly told Parliament they are not happy with the legacy they are being left. They don’t want water that is unsafe to swim in and is an ongoing threat to their health. Parliament has to start doing something meaningful and constructive to protect our freshwater before it is too late,” he says.

“If rivers only have to be wadeable they will be lost for ever as polluters will ensure our waterways will always be at that low standard.

“The Havelock North water contamination debacle should be a wakeup call. Water quality is deteriorating and New Zealanders don’t want their health threatened by the government’s failure to act,” Mr Johnson says.

Bryce Johnson says decisive action on the issue makes economic sense.

“New Zealand’s wealth and health relies heavily on clean fresh water. At the very least, preserving water quality should be a straight commercial decision to protect New Zealanders’ health and culture and the country’s internationally unique marketing point of difference”, Mr Johnson says.

Fish & Game is also backing the Choose Clean Water Campaign’s call for the water quality issue to be referred to the Health Select Committee.

“This whole debate over swimmability versus wadeability is actually a public health issue more than a simple environmental question. It is logical that people falling ill after drinking water or swimming in it should be considered by the Health Select Committee,” Bryce Johnson says.

Fish & Game says present and future governments must make clean, swimmable water a national priority.

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