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Building water storageshould not become ‘political football'

Media Statement

16 May 2013 – for immediate release

Building water storage too important to become ‘political football’

IrrigationNZ says it is increasingly concerned about political rhetoric around water storage and a cross-political party agreement is needed to advance the issue.

The national body representing irrigators and the irrigation industry was responding to comments from former Labour MP Stuart Nash that a future Labour Government wouldn’t fund water storage developments.

“As water storage has multiple benefits, from improved river flows to more productive farms and job creation for towns and cities, we struggle to understand why some politicians continue to see water storage as a negative. It’s far too important to be treated as a ’political football’. It’s an investment in New Zealand’s future and one we need to make now,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“All groups involved in the Land and Water Forum noted the importance of water storage and need for its further investigation. The political debate should focus on maximising the benefits and making storage affordable for communities,” says Mr Curtis.

In a year of significant drought, IrrigationNZ says it’s even more apparent how much of the economy is driven by agricultural exports - and irrigation and water storage helps future-proof supply.

“We all want our supermarkets to offer a variety of quality produce at minimal cost. The drought is already biting with consumers experiencing high prices and limited supplies of some produce.”

While irrigation benefited farmers, there were wider public benefits for all New Zealanders.

“Irrigation underpins the socio-economic well-being of much of New Zealand’s east coast including Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Christchurch, Mid Canterbury, South Canterbury and North Otago. There are a multitude of studies that support this. Internationally irrigation is used as a socio-economic tool to create prosperity for all – not just the irrigator. New Zealand has ample water supply. It’s just not in the right place at the right time. Ignoring storage will have an unacceptable impact on our national wellbeing,” says Mr Curtis.

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