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Freshwater 2020 - Working Towards Improved Outcomes

Freshwater 2020 - working towards improved outcomes balancing the environment with community and economic needs

IrrigationNZ commends the work that has gone into the Freshwater 2020 report released today, and recognises this data helps towards providing certainty of where we need to head.

IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal says, “Freshwater and related ecosystems are very complex, and as the report says, data gaps do remain. However, it is helpful for farmers to see where their improvements are working, and where further work is required.”

IrrigationNZ notes some positive trends emerging from the report for example:

  • More than half, 67 percent, of pastoral sites had improving trends for ammoniacal nitrogen.
  • Only 28% of the lakes downstream from pastoral areas exceed the Freshwater NPS national bottom line compared to 47% downstream from urban areas.
  • For groundwater,
  • less than half of sites across the country had median nitrate-nitrogen concentrations above the concentrations expected to occur naturally, and
  • for nitrate-nitrogen, ammoniacal nitrogen, and dissolved reactive phosphorus, 49 percent, 55 percent, and 60 percent of sites respectively were improving.
  • Unfortunately, nitrate-nitrogen and E. coli levels were twice as high in urban areas than in pastoral catchments.

“Although there are some positives, the report does show the decline of quality in both urban and rural water bodies and the negative impacts these have more broadly on our environment. So, we know further work needs to be done to improve our freshwater quality,” says Ms Soal.

“New Zealanders want to enjoy freshwater for recreation, have clean water to drink, and as the Government acknowledges, we also need water for farming.

“We already know that human activity and climate change have major impacts on our water, we cannot avoid this, but we can work toward ensuring the negative impacts are managed to the best of our collective ability.”

“We need to balance environmental improvements with what our communities and the economy needs in facing climate change challenges looking ahead.”

“Access to stored water collected in high flow times can help alleviate the environmental and community freshwater challenges as well as ensure we have access to reliable water to support farming and industry,” says Ms Soal.

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