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Cabinet action needed on threat to Auckland water

Cabinet action needed on threat to Auckland water

Cabinet needs to step in to sort out a battle involving a Landcorp partnership in which Auckland's major drinking-water source is threatened, Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

"I want ministers to stop listening to the Agriculture Ministry and to Landcorp, which are deeply involved in promoting intensive dairying, and start meeting drinking-water wholesaler Watercare Services' managers, as I have. The Government will find there are deep concerns about the future water supply for our biggest city."

A Landcorp partnership (the Wairakei Estate) is converting 25,000 hectares of forest north of Taupo into dairy and drystock farming. Up to 20 industrial dairy units will eventually carry 30,000 cows.

Watercare Services has been lobbying against aspects of the development, saying for example in a submission that "the nitrate increase and increased risk of protozoa will cause a decline in water quality...". Also, if irrigation was allowed, "there would be a significant reduction in summer low flow (13 percent)" and "significant increases in river nutrient (120 percent)". Under the heading 'Land Use Change' in a recent document called The Health of the Waikato River and Catchment, Environment Waikato says the catchment has a 'management framework that does not always consider broad system effects'. The report follows a statement about Wairakei's application from the council's hearing committees which said: "The committees... expressed concern about the present lack of specific policy guidance on how to balance competing requests for water".

"Environment Waikato is trying to deal with pressures on the quality and quantity of river water but with central government sending mixed signals, the regional body is finding it hard to cope. A National Environmental Standard for Sources of Human Drinking Water came into effect on June 20. State-Owned Enterprises and Environment Minister Trevor Mallard should read his own new regulations and advise Landcorp it is not the time to further pollute the Waikato," Dr Norman says.


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