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River ranking puts focus on water quality

Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for the Environment

20 October 2009
Media Statement
River ranking puts focus on water quality

Environment Minister Nick Smith has today welcomed the release of league tables that rank the water quality of New Zealand’s major rivers.

“Water quality is a significant issue for New Zealand and improved reporting is part of the answer,” Dr Smith said. “National campaigned on a Bluegreen approach of improving the quality of environmental reporting. This is the first time this information has been compiled by the Ministry for the Environment to enable ranking of water quality in New Zealand’s river systems.

“Good environmental reporting is critical to good decision-making. In order to build a reliable and accurate national picture of the state of our environment, we not only need high quality environmental monitoring, but also information that is more nationally focussed.

Dr Smith said initiatives based on a more collaborative approach to environmental governance will assist in achieving greater consistency in resource management. He said the National Environmental Reporting Forum, which brings together agencies to improve the quality of environmental information, puts this principle into action.

“In particular, I look forward to the Reporting Forum progressing work to achieve greater consistency in freshwater monitoring and reporting, which is key to good freshwater management.”

In addition to the series of league tables for water quality at New Zealand’s largest rivers, the Minister today released a national report on groundwater quality, which pools together data from around 1000 monitoring wells and expertise from regional councils and Crown Research Institutes.

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“Both the league tables and the groundwater report point to areas of concern – particularly degradation of our lowland water bodies which are most vulnerable to human activities on the land,” Dr Smith said.

“Good information is only the first step to addressing New Zealand’s water quality issues. We are going to need better research, and improved collaboration, regulation and incentives to address the problems identified by this enhanced reporting.”

ENDS

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