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Progress on water quality and allocation programme

1 July 2004 Media Statement

Progress on water quality and allocation programme

Progress towards a framework to manage New Zealand's freshwater quality and allocation was highlighted today with the release of three independent reports.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said freshwater quality and water allocation is a major national concern that the government is addressing through a fundamental review of water management.

"Clean and adequate water is vital to our economic prosperity, our health, our environment and our cultural identity," Marian Hobbs said.

The reports were commissioned as part of the Water Programme of Action – a two-year, comprehensive review of water management led by the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

"The reports will help us better understand water management issues, and are part of an information-gathering exercise to put forward issues and options on which the public can have a say," Marian Hobbs said.

"It is timely to get people thinking about the nation's water resource – how it can be allocated equitably and its quality enhanced into the future.

"Water is not plentiful everywhere and in some places its long-term quality is in serious doubt. We also know there are complex and conflicting interests over its use. Problems seen recently in the Waitaki Catchment over water allocation, and in the deteriorating water quality of lakes Taupo, Rotorua and Rotoiti, are part of a bigger picture. Issues with these water bodies have captured the public's interest."

The reports provide information on:

- the range of economic instruments that could be applied to manage water quality
- individual's and groups' actual and perceived rights of water allocation
- individual's and groups’ actual and perceived rights of the impact of their land use on water quality.

The Water Programme of Action covers sustainable and equitable freshwater allocation and use, maintaining freshwater quality, and identifying nationally important water bodies.

The first phase of the programme is nearly complete and these three papers are the first of eight information-gathering reports. The programme is expected to deliver decisions on how to improve water management in New Zealand and the tools and resources required by late 2005.

"Involving all those with different relationships with water such as farmers, kayakers, local iwi, is integral to the programme, along with working closely with regional councils, which have an active water management role," Marian Hobbs said.

"In the coming months there will be opportunities for individuals, communities, industry and others with an interest in water issues to have input into the solutions for water management."

Water was one of four key areas identified by the government in 2003 under the New Zealand Sustainable Development Programme of Action. Other areas of focus are energy, sustainable cities and investing in child and youth development.

The reports will be available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website at www.mfe.govt.nz under “Publications”.

ENDS

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