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Goverment drops recreational river reporting

Goverment drops recreational river reporting

The Government pulled the plug on cleaning up our dirty rivers so they are safe for swimming, and now it has given up on annual reports about the problem, the Green Party said today.

Two weeks ago the Government released its national bottom lines for water quality with changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. The bottom line for human health is secondary contact. This means levels of faecal contamination have to be at a level suitable for boating or wading, but not for swimming.

The Environment Minister's answers to parliamentary questions from the Green Party have since confirmed the Government is dropping its annual reporting on how many monitored river swimming sites are safe for swimming. Last year 61 percent of monitored recreational sites on rivers were not clean enough to swim in.

“New Zealanders want clean rivers that they can swim in. National has thrown in the towel on ensuring rivers are clean and safe for swimming in. Now National is trying to cover up the state of our rivers by stopping these longstanding annual reports on the state of our rivers,” Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

“Abandoning annual reports on recreational water quality and replacing these with general water quality reports every three years is seeking to hide the facts about the continuing decline in the state of our rivers.

“The indicator report is regular, easy to understand and shows the whole picture, National just don’t want to see it.

“The LAWA website, referred to by the Minister, gives a good picture about trends at individual sites, but it doesn’t show the overall national picture of whether our rivers are safe to swim in, like the indicator report the Government has dropped.

“National’s so-called rules are just a licence to pollute. The Government knows it and that’s why Ministers are seeking to hide the facts.

“National’s weak bottom line for water quality in our rivers and lakes means that even boating and wading will have a moderate risk of getting a stomach bug or other illness.

Last election National promised independent state of the environment reporting. Three years later, the Environment Minister has failed to get the legislation through Parliament. National's bill allows the Minister to choose the topics to be reported on risking more political interference in future.

“Instead of hiding the problem, the Green Party can fix it. The Green Party’s plan to clean up our rivers would ensure that we have a bottom line for our rivers and lakes that means that everyone can swim at a river near where they live.

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