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Dirty Streams Accord

20 February 2013

Dirty Streams Accord

Voluntary accords like the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord are no substitute for effective rules and standards, the Green Party said today.

Dairy New Zealand today released its Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, which revises Fonterra’s 2003 Clean Streams Accord.

“A voluntary accord is no substitute for effective rules with controls on intensive farming and clear standards for water quality and limits on pollutants,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The voluntary water accord also risks allowing land users to continue to oppose regional rules that set limits on nutrient leaching and other pollutants. Federated Farmers, for example, has appealed the Environment Court’s decision on Manawatu’s One Plan to uphold rules limiting nutrient leaching.

“The onus is on the dairy industry to explain why it won’t commit to binding targets. The voluntary accord gives too much wriggle room and has no sanction for breaches.

“Our clean green reputation and New Zealanders’ right to clean, swimmable water in all our rivers, streams and lakes is worth more than good intentions.

“The new accord is about industry good practice but voluntary accords don’t stop pollution of our rivers, lakes and streams.

“Just look at the findings of the MAF 2011 review of progress on the Clean Streams Accord. Only 42% of farms had fenced and completely excluded stock from all streams that met the narrow accord definition of streams.

“The new water accord pushes back a deadline which was not met under the previous accord,” said Ms Sage.

The 2003 accord had a target of excluding all dairy cattle from 90% of streams, rivers and lakes by 2012. The new water accord extends this deadline to 31 May 2014.

“The Green Party is pleased that the new water accord covers all dairy companies, not just Fonterra, but the lack of measurable standards for improvements in water quality and clear enforcement mechanisms remain major shortcomings,” said Ms Sage.

“New Zealand has more than six million cows. Fonterra and the industry’s drive to increase cow numbers to maximise milk production will see our water pollution problems get worse.

“For water quality to improve we need national environmental standards to protect waterways from stock access and to set measurable limits on nitrates and other contaminants and rules controlling land use.”

In December 2011 MAF published a report on its survey of 587 Fonterra dairy farms subject to the Clean Streams Accord. It showed that:
Only 42% of farms had fenced and completely excluded stock from all streams which met the accord definition of streams;
Only 57% of accord waterways across or adjacent to surveyed farms were completed fenced and protected.

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