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Creation of Wetlands Could Solve Drought Problems

Creation of Wetlands Could Solve Drought Problems

Tuesday, October 2 2001 Gerry Eckhoff Press Releases -- Environment & Conservation

ACT Environment Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff is urging the creation of large areas of wetland to help preserve water and alleviate the country's recurring drought problems. He has written to the Fish and Game Council and Federated Farmers, suggesting they could get together to promote water harvesting.

"I think farmers need to accept that some land currently used for farming needs to be given over to water harvesting to achieve security of future water supply and to maintain and enhance the productivity of surrounding property.

"Some parts of the country have this year recorded their lowest levels of rainfall in 30 years. We've already seen one downside of this with the power crisis ' now as we head into summer farmers in areas such as Marlborough and Canterbury are already looking down the barrel of major drought conditions. The demand for irrigation water is already strong. I believe irrigation restrictions of 50% of allocation are just days away in Canterbury.

"Dairy farmers in the Canterbury region who rely on irrigation must realise they face a major production loss. Many farmers are highly geared financially and can ill afford the restrictions placed on irrigation water. Make no mistake if the farmers suffer, New Zealand suffers.

"Complaints from fishers about the state of Canterbury rivers at the start of the fishing season have already started. Fish and game Council and Federated Farmers are at loggerheads as to how to solve this seemingly intractable problem ' and yet they really want the same thing, a good water supply. The answer however is blindingly obvious. Water harvesting. The storage of water during winter is the only viable option for both of these vital industries. I have written to both Federated Farmers and Fish and game with an offer to broker a sensible outcome.

"Fish and game and Federated farmers have to work together to achieve sensible outcomes for their members. Neither group has a prior right to the water. Neither group has a property right over the water. The real enemy of both is drought and the preservationist movement which is alive and well within Canterbury and indeed the whole South Island. These people somehow believe Canterbury and New Zealand can survive very well without industry. Fundamentalist attitudes as displayed by the green lobby serve little purpose.

"Economic and social success relies on the utilisation of our natural capital of which fresh water is possibly the most valuable. We can't keep trusting that nature will always take care of us. In these times of climatic change we need to take positive steps that will ensure we always have enough water. We need to act now and I will keep pushing for progress," Gerry Eckhoff said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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