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Fonterra cleans up water pollution in Australia but not NZ

Fonterra cleans up water pollution in Australia but not NZ

The Greens are congratulating Fonterra for investing in clean water technology in their Australian factory but want to know why they won’t do the same at their factory in the Wairarapa.

As part of his national Dirty Rivers Rafting Tour, Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman paddled on the polluted Mangatainoka River today and witnessed the detrimental effects that a Fonterra milk processing plant was having on the river’s water quality.

“If Fonterra can invest in saving water and reducing pollution in Australia, why not at home in New Zealand?” questioned Dr Norman.

Fonterra recently announced a $A1.23 million water saving, pollution reducing plan at its Australian plant in Victoria. At that plant, they recycle wastewater and use it to wash out the factory, before returning it to land to use as irrigation.

The Fonterra Pahiatua dairy plant currently discharges up to 2,664 cubic meters of wastewater into the Mangatainoka daily. Fonterra’s wastewater consent has expired, and the company is applying to continue this discharge practice. It also recently received a consent to use more groundwater in the Mangatainoka catchment, which it says is needed for cooling and washing the factory.

“If they invested in water savings and recycling at the Pahiatua plant like they do in Australia, there would be no need to put this fragile catchment at further risk,” said Dr Norman.

“Fonterra has signed up to the Manawatu Leaders’ Accord to clean up the Manawatu River and yet they refuse to invest in technology that would clean up the Mangatainoka, which flows into the Manawatu.

“Fonterra’s lack of commitment to voluntary environmental measures highlights the need for Government regulation.

“Regulation and a price on commercial water use in Victoria incentivised Fonterra’s investment in water savings and pollution measures there, which given the state of the Maingatainoka, we clearly need here.”

Dr Norman said that good clean water rules were ready to go in the form of a National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management.

“All they need is Environment Minister Nick Smith's signature, but he is sitting on his hands while our freshwater crisis deepens,” Dr Norman said.

"I hope my visit to the Mangatianoka, and other stops on my Dirty Rivers Rafting Tour, will galvanise support for the proposed NPS.

“We need clean water rules without delay,” said Dr Norman.

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