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IrrigationNZ calls for nationwide water strategy

IrrigationNZ welcomes the Government’s Economic Plan for a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy released today, but says a comprehensive, nationwide strategy for New Zealand’s water is missing, and could underpin the country’s well-being.

“We all know we have abundant water in New Zealand that is valued in many ways, but we are yet to put in place a long-term, all inclusive strategy to reflect these values and how water can support the well-being metrics set out by Government,” says Elizabeth Soal, Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ.

“Water is currently being tackled in pockets - the Three Waters Review (drinking water, stormwater, wastewater); ad hoc Provincial Growth Fund allocations to water storage and use; the Essential Freshwater programme to clean up our waterways and tackle allocation; the Productive and Sustainable Land Use Package supporting farmers - all positive work but without a guiding strategy that pulls it all together.

“If New Zealand had a holistic, long term strategy in place for water, it could underpin so much of what the Government is trying to achieve in terms of the environment, transition to zero carbon, resilient regional communities and a high value, sustainable economy.

“We are also concerned that while the Plan sets out the Government’s economic priority to transition to a zero carbon economy - on the flip side there is no water strategy to help us adapt to the pressures of climate change - drought mitigation and provision of water for growing food and domestic use.

“We agree that the protection and enhancement of our environment and the strength of our communities helps us achieve our potential, and we believe that better capturing and storing our abundant rainfall and ice-melt as part of an overall strategy, to steward our water, could support this,” says Ms Soal.

“We would like to see more work done in this space and a water commission set up to investigate the options,” says Ms Soal.

IrrigationNZ believes that an effective water management strategy could support the government’s initiatives to:
• Move the economy from volume to value by enabling options to grow high value products
• Increase investment in all types of water infrastructure by accurately reflecting benefits to the community and business
• Support strong and revitalised regional economies with supply of water for all purposes
• Enable a step-change in the Maori economy by supplying water to previously underdeveloped land
• Support sustainable and affordable energy systems with development of hydro electricity
• Deliver greater value from the land and improve environmental outcomes

The Government’s Economic Plan can be found here: Economic Plan

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