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Water Woes - When Will We See Action?

21 November 2006

Water Woes - When Will We See Action?

Three reports on the state of New Zealand's freshwater from the Ministry for the Environment make frustrating reading. The reports cover the state of our lakes, rivers and water allocation, and offer further confirmation of the continuing degradation of this finite and critical resource.

"While it is good to see increased monitoring, that is where the good news ends. For a country that brands itself on a clean, green 100% pure image to differentiate its agriculture and tourism in world markets, and to define itself as a nation, it defies any sort of sense to stand by as our freshwater environment is destroyed before our eyes," said Bryce Johnson, Director Fish & Game New Zealand.

"How many more reports on the state and trends of our water, or reports on 'the problem and its cause', must the nation receive before we act? The catchphrases trotted out by agriculture are getting very tired. 'More education will lead to voluntary change' and 'more research is needed' continue to ring hollow when there is decreasing compliance with regional council resource consents and water quality continues to deteriorate."

"Central and regional government, on behalf of all Kiwis, must require agriculture to take far greater responsibility for 'avoiding, remedying and/or mitigating' its adverse environmental effects. These latest reports underline (again) that agriculture continues to pass its waste nutrients, sediment, effluent and bad bugs on to the community in the water of degraded streams, rivers and lakes."

"We must also get a lot better at requiring a match between land use and land capability, and start genuinely farming for environmental sustainability."

"I shudder to think how many media releases, talks and interviews I have done over the last five years on this same issue. Surely it is reasonable for Kiwis to expect their rivers, lakes and streams to be swimmable, fishable and in good ecological health, and their ground waters drinkable? Central government really has to assume leadership where agriculture has failed to act voluntarily."


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