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Forest & Bird at Te Waikoropupū Springs hearing on Friday

Forest & Bird will argue that no more water should be taken from Te Waikoropupū Springs, at a Special Tribunal hearing for a Water Conservation Order this Friday in Golden Bay.

Water is currently taken for dairy farming essential upstream in the catchment, and nitrate levels have gradually increased since irrigation began.

“Halting further pollution is essential for the future health of Te Waikoropupū Springs,” says Forest & Bird regional manager Debs Martin.

“It can take water eight years to travel down the Takaka River valley, through the aquifers, and out into the clear waters of the Springs. That lag means pollution like nitrates take time to show up in the Springs.

“A Water Conservation Order needs to ensure a precautionary approach is taken in terms of protecting the ecological values, the minimum water flows and the surrounding limestone landscapes right up into Kahurangi National Park.”

“Te Waikoropupū Springs is an area with native submerged mosses, rare fish, and other amazing underwater creatures. Increased irrigation for dairy, or mining for gold, risks damaging this precious place.”

Ms Martin will present Forest & Bird’s submissions at the hearing. Forest & Bird’s freshwater expert, Annabeth Cohen, will present evidence on the hydrology and international significance of the site.

Forest & Bird will also be advocating for a higher level of protection for the tributaries that feed into the Takaka River system upstream on conservation land. Current and future mining threats could compromise the water quality.

Te Waikoropupū Springs, renowned for having some of the clearest fresh water ever observed in the world, is a popular tourist destination. The area is also of high cultural significance to iwi.

The application for a Water Conservation Order was made last year by Ngāti Tama Ki Te Waipounamu Trust and Golden Bay resident Andrew Yuill. More than 2000 public submissions were received when consultation closed last month, over 1100 of which were received through an online Forest & Bird submission tool. Altogether, more than 95 percent of submissions supported the application for a Water Conservation Order.

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