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Rivers too polluted for stock to drink from

10 September 2008


Rivers too polluted for stock to drink from

The Government can't ignore a report on Waikato water quality out today that shows 70 percent of 78 rivers and streams tested were unsafe for swimming and more than 75 percent were unsafe for stock to drink from, Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

"This report is the most damning condemnation of the Government's hands-off policies on freshwater yet. Environment Minister Trevor Mallard should be ashamed he has succumbed to lobbying by big industrial dairy polluters rather than keep Labour's promise to make rivers safe to swim in within a generation," he says.

The Environment Waikato report, the result of two years' work overseen by the regional council's soil scientist Peter Singleton, warned the full effects of intensive farming may not be evident for decades from now.

"Coincidentally this comes on the same day as a Tourism Industry Election Manifesto which lists "Improving New Zealand's Environmental Performance" as one of six government priorities. It says the tourism industry 'cannot deliver on New Zealand's 100% Pure brand promise on its own'.

"It also comes at the same time as some of our farming and regional media are condemning the Government's freshwater policies. Compared to city media, these newspapers and radio stations are closest to increasingly-polluted waterways, one of New Zealand's biggest environmental concerns of the moment.

"Luckily the Government's Proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management released in July is still open for change and the Minister could decide to make streams safe for stock to drink from and even keep Labour's promise to make all water bodies safe for swimming within a generation.

"He could add specific dates and defined water quality standards to the document so all regional councils have a clear mandate to clamp down hard against effluent pollution. Not all councils are doing so now. But will he listen to those with '100% Pure' branding interests, or only to Fonterra?"

ENDS

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