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Irrigation to-Date is the Tip of the Pollution Iceberg

Irrigation to-Date is the Tip of the Pollution Iceberg
1 AUGUST 2017
NZ Outdoors Party
The NZ Outdoors Party has received information from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd that only 1.4% of its $540M subsidy and loan portfolio has been spent so far on building irrigation schemes. The impact on our freshwater rivers, lakes and aquifers if the remaining 99% is invested is “pretty bloody scary” said Co-Leader, David Haynes.

Crown Irrigation figures show that to date, $5M has been handed out for irrigation subsidies for pre-construction activities. In addition, it has committed to just two loans: One for $6.5M for Central Plains Water Scheme Stage 1, which has since been paid back, the other for $65M for the Central Plains Water Scheme 2, repayable by 2031.

Haynes said, “Given only 1.4% of irrigation funds have been spent on actually building irrigation schemes we have a ticking time bomb of pollution on a scale hitherto unimagined”, Haynes stated. “If irrigation continues as-is we have only experienced the tip of the freshwater pollution iceberg. Our fisheries are being destroyed, along with our rights to recreation and food gathering.”

Newsroom recently reported that around 65 per cent of the country's irrigated land is in Canterbury and it has played a major role in the intensification of dairy farming. Rivers and groundwater pollution is rife and now a risk to public health, meanwhile Crown Irrigation continue to subsidise studies into new and expanded Canterbury mega-irrigation schemes including the Emu Plains, Hurunui and Hunter Downs.

Andrew Curtis, of Irrigation NZ, admitted to Newsroom that “…investment in infrastructure required (for irrigation) is likely to be significant with some farms being unable to meet these costs…” Which begs the question whether irrigation is the preserve of wealthy corporates and at the cost of losing our iconic trout and salmon fisheries and the much loved Kiwi family owned farm.

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