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"Ambulance at Te Waihora lakeside"

25 August 2011

Ambulance at Te Waihora lakeside better than no ambulance at all

The Green Party is welcoming the Government’s announcement to clean up Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere but is asking how the proposal will be effective in light of the proposed dramatic expansion of intensive irrigated dairying in the catchment of the lake.

“It is great that there is a plan to clean up Te Waihora and there is a lot in the plan I agree with. However, the measures will not succeed if the Government continues to allow an increase in pollution flowing into the lake,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

Canterbury’s Te Waihora is the country’s fifth biggest lake and is the most polluted.

“We welcome the formal recognition and stronger role Ngāi Tahu will play in managing the lake,” said Dr Norman.

“However, I am concerned that the proposed changes won’t be enough.

“If the Central Plains Water and TrustPower irrigation schemes proceed, the resulting expansion of the dairy industry will dramatically increase diffuse nitrogen pollution, overwhelming any gains made by improved farming practice, and cause Te Waihora to degrade even further.

“Scientists have shown that land use intensification, such as putting more fertiliser and cows on our land, is the primary reason for water quality decline in New Zealand.

“The plan announced by the Government and Ngāi Tahu today is a welcome step towards a clean Te Waihora, but to make it happen, we need standards for clean water as well.

"We need standards for clean water that limit the amount of pollution flowing into our rivers and lakes, otherwise we will be forever throwing taxpayer and private money towards clean-up initiatives.”

“We note that once again that the taxpayer and ratepayer are paying the lion’s share of the clean-up cost, making the case yet again that we need a price on irrigation water to fund these clean-ups,” said Dr Norman.

Setting standards for clean water is part one of the Green Party’s three part plan to make New Zealand’s rivers and lakes clean enough to swim in again. The other elements of the plan are to introduce a fair charge for irrigation water, and to support water clean-up initiatives such as riparian planting and sewage treatment plant upgrades.

ENDS

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