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Greens launch plan to clean up New Zealand’s rivers and lake

21 August 2011

Greens launch plan to clean up New Zealand’s rivers and lakes

The Green Party has today launched a plan to clean up New Zealand’s rivers and lakes.

“Our sparkling rivers and lakes are a key part of what makes Aotearoa New Zealand such a beautiful place to live. But our rivers and lakes are under threat,” Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said.

“More than half of our monitored rivers are unsafe for swimming, one-third of our lakes are unhealthy, and two-thirds of our native freshwater fish are at risk or threatened with extinction.

“This is not a legacy we want to pass on to the next generation.”

Dr Norman said the Green Party had developed a three-part plan which, if implemented, would make our rivers and lakes clean enough to swim in again: 1) Set standards for clean water; 2) Introduce a fair charge for irrigation water and; 3) Support water clean-up initiatives.

“Our standards for clean water will set limits to the amount of water being taken from our rivers and lakes, and the amount of pollution going into them,” Dr Norman said.

“These standards will also require stock exclusion from rivers and lakes within five years. Planting riverbanks and excluding stock from waterways has been shown to significantly improve water quality within three years.

“We will cut over-use of water by introducing a charge on irrigation water that would raise $370 million to $570 million per year. This will provide the funds to support river clean-up projects by farmers and councils.

“For example, we will create jobs that help clean up our waterways by funding people to work alongside farmers to fence and plant streams. We will also provide financial assistance to councils to upgrade sewage treatment plants so that sewage will no longer pollute our rivers.

“Healthy rivers are essential for a healthy economy. Our clean and green brand underpins our tourism and agricultural exports. Cleaning up our rivers and lakes is a way to protect and enhance our 100% Pure brand.

“Looking after our natural environment, including our rivers and lakes, is the best thing we can do to build a stronger economy that in turn looks after all our people.”

Dr Norman said cleaning up our rivers and lakes was one of the Green Party’s top three priorities in 2011. The others were bringing 100,000 kids out of poverty, launched earlier this month, and creating thousands of new clean, green jobs, to be launched soon.

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