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Govt ‘shady’ on swimming standard details

Govt ‘shady’ on swimming standard details

1 May 2017

The government has kept the public in the dark on its new freshwater policy by failing to produce key information on proposed swimming standards before submissions on the policy closed last week.

Freshwater campaign group, Choose Clean Water, says the government is being “shady and unfair” by denying the public information that would clarify the Government’s disputed claim that they have not worsened swimming standards.

Following February’s announcement of their new water policy, the Government was widely criticised for changing swimming standards to allow more faecal contamination of rivers and lakes where New Zealanders swim.

Last Friday, the day that public submissions closed, Choose Clean Water learned that the Ministry for the Environment had done key analysis showing the percentage of sites around the country that would pass under the old standard alongside the percentage of sites that would pass under the government's proposed new standards but they would only provide that information to a small group of scientists and not the public.

The group also learned that the scientists would receive the information the week after submissions on the policy had closed and would be granted a three-week extension to comment, which the public would not have.

“Why do we have this shady and unfair process that hasn’t allowed the public to see this key information in time for the public consultation?” said Choose Clean Water spokesperson Marnie Prickett.

“These swimming standards are about pathogens, the things that make you sick when you swim or drink water, so they’re crucial for our health professionals, our tourism industry, parents and grandparents, everyone. They shouldn’t just be plonked into a policy by the government without proper consideration from scientists and the public.”

“We all know we have serious problems of freshwater contamination and polluted rivers and lakes in New Zealand. How will we solve these problems with this unhelpful approach from the Ministry?”

“The Government must make this information publicly available.”


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