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Water, water - not everywhere

7th October 2008

Water, water - not everywhere

New Zealanders must move away from the attitude of thinking water should be freely available as of “right” and start treating it as the valuable and limited natural resource if they want to remain sustainable and prosperous says IPENZ, the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand.

“For years New Zealand has been well endowed with water resources so we use it as if it’s in unlimited supply. Water is fundamental to New Zealand’s export industries, we only need to look at the severe droughts in Australia to see how water is our competitive advantage in the global food marketplace and will be at the centre of our future economic growth,” says Tim Davin, Director of Policy, IPENZ.

“The rapidly increasing demand, which has accelerated in the last 20 years, is placing our water resources at risk. New Zealanders need to stop taking water for granted and treat it as a valuable natural resource, in the same way other countries regard minerals or oil.”

In a report launched today IPENZ believes to become a prosperous sustainable world leader in food production, New Zealand must value water as a limited resource and use economic instruments to control contamination, to allocate water and to manage demand.

“At the moment water allocation and management is limited to the RMA, furthermore government leadership has been limited to the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry if Health – each having a narrow interest. We believe the entire water cycle has lacked central leadership and we need to introduce economic instruments to protect it as a natural resource. For example one way to change our behaviours and treating water as an unlimited resource is to have a mandatory introduction of universal water meters that charge for water consumption. Evidence shows that users with water meters use 40% less water than those who don’t,” says Mr Davin.

The report entitled “Water- New Zealand’s Valuable Natural Resource” outlines themes around the improvement, management and allocation of water in New Zealand including:

- Tradable transferable water rights should be introduced to commercial users, with annual resource rentals.

- Mandatory universal water meters should be introduced

- Nutrient trading should be introduced to price contamination of water ways

ENDS

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