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NZ should be ashamed of its polluted waterways

22 July 2005

NZ should be ashamed of its polluted waterways

The appalling state of Otara Creek is just another example of how New Zealand's once-pristine waterways are being treated as a low priority by both local and central governments, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"The Government's own figures show that 95 per cent of our lowland rivers and waterways are not safe for swimming in or drinking from and yet cleaning up this massive problem seems to have been filed in the too hard basket," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Otara Creek is just another example of this and something New Zealand should be ashamed of."

The Green Party has been working to highlight the dire straits that New Zealand's waterways are in. Last month, it launched a "5% pure" campaign as part of its Environment Policy. The policy includes a number of incentives that would help to clean up waterways and prevent further pollution.

"Central Government's contribution should be to set National Environmental Standards for freshwater under the RMA.

"Then, in the case of Otara Creek, a catchment management plan from the Auckland Regional Council would provide a framework for clean up," Ms Fitzsimons says. "This needs to ensure industry does not discharge into streams and that storm water running off heavily trafficked roads is filtered.

"I would also like to see the council strengthen its policing of the polluters and follow this up with prosecutions as a deterrent to others.

"Some of the pollution problems stem from local residents dumping rubbish in the creek, but this is not surprising as it is difficult for the community to have pride in a stream that is so polluted."

"The Community Board has organised clean ups in the past. We need to ensure the community, and particularly schools, are involved, to build respect for waterways and a sense of pride in a clean stream.

"We just cannot continue to bury our heads in the silt in the hope that these problems will go away on their own. The solution requires a concerted effort from central and local government and the community," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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