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Green’s Water Policy Unrealistic

Media Statement

July 13 – for immediate release

Green’s Water Policy Unrealistic

Irrigation New Zealand (INZ) thinks that there is some merit in the Green Party’s environmental policy relating to water announced today, but is concerned about the economic and social impacts of the policy and about how the Green Party will achieve its outcomes.

INZ agrees that dams must not be built on New Zealand’s pristine rivers and where possible new dams should be located off-river. It also agrees that ‘no go’ areas should be identified.

But INZ does not agree that dams and irrigation destroy rivers or add to pollution if they are designed and constructed properly.

“The reality is that New Zealand needs large scale water storage. This is essential for town and city drinking water supplies, as well as to produce fresh food,” says Andrew Curtis, chief executive of INZ.

“Without water storage we would have to explore other expensive options to cope with future population growth. These might include implementing intense food price hikes; importing foreign fresh produce and building desalination plants.

“Irrigation schemes are also key to fixing up problems of the past by storing high winter flows and using these for irrigation during the summer which prevents rivers being impacted by irrigation takes,” says Mr Curtis.

INZ agrees with the Green’s proposed collaborative approach to setting water policy, but INZ says that New Zealand must realise the complexity of its water issues.

“The government’s NPS is actually one of the toughest pieces of environmental legislation anywhere in the developed world and people need to understand the legislation in detail,” says Mr Curtis.

“The NPS policy states that river water quality in New Zealand cannot get worse and it provides a minimum level for rivers in a poor state to reach.

“The reality is that it is unrealistic and prohibitively expensive to have swimmable rivers everywhere – particularly in towns and cities where water quality is by far the worst.”

INZ looks forward to further discussing water policy with the Green Party to see if we can work toward a way for both preserving New Zealand’s water quality while still continuing to grow our economy.

INZ is committed to finding a way for New Zealand to develop sustainably managed irrigation schemes within acceptable environmental limits.

“Water is our most valuable renewable resource and we believe that irrigation in New Zealand is essential to protect against climatic variations and to enhance the country’s ability to feed its population and to contribute to feeding the world,” says Mr Curtis.

For more information on future SMART irrigation visit

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