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We're swimming in it

8 December 2008
We're swimming in it

The Green Party is calling on the Government, as part of its infrastructure stimulus package, to offer financial support to local councils to upgrade their sewage treatment plants.

This follows a Consumer New Zealand report today that a third of the country's most popular beaches are unsafe for swimming as a result of sewage and dairy effluent.

The Greens are also calling on the Government to strengthen environmental laws around water pollution because the current laws are too weak.

"New Zealanders are literally sick because of rivers and lakes full of dairy effluent and human sewage. Kiwi kids are getting ear, eye, and skin infections and campylobacter and diarrhoea as a result of swimming in what was once a beautiful river or beach," Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

"Summer is supposed to be about kids and adults swimming in clean rivers and crystal clean beaches and catching a fish for dinner. Instead the reality of 'clean green' New Zealand is that our lowland rivers are full of cow effluent, our beaches are contaminated by human sewage, and our fish stocks are depleted.

"This situation is also extremely damaging to our '100% Pure' branding, and hence our tourism industry.

"But there is a potential win-win outcome. The Government has announced that it plans an infrastructure package to stimulate the economy. Upgrading sewage treatment plants would stimulate the economy, be an investment in cleaning up our beaches and rivers and lakes, and protect our tourism industry.

"This report shows once again that environmental protection laws are too weak, contrary to what we hear from Federated Farmers and industrial agribusiness.

"Plans to weaken the Resource Management Act, as National has indicated, are ridiculous when the RMA is already so weak it is letting agribusiness destroy what makes this country special - our clean green environment.

"I'm attending a protest on Friday in Whangarei because the District Council is applying for an extension of its sewerage overflow permits to dump sewage into the harbour. This shows that the RMA is too permissive, and that councils need financial support to upgrade their treatment plants."


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