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EDS commends the Greens' Plan for Cleaning up Rivers

Media Release: EDS commends the Greens' Plan for Cleaning up New Zealand's rivers

The Environmental Defence Society welcomes and supports the Green Party's plan to clean up New Zealand's polluted lakes, rivers and streams.

"The Green Party has correctly recognised that it's essential to set national standards for freshwater if we are to reverse the concerning trend of declining freshwater quality with its associated threats to native freshwater fish and aquatic ecosystems," said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

"EDS endorses the Greens preference for the draft National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS) as recommended by the Board of Inquiry. This position is consistent with the recommendation in the Land and Water Forum Report that the Board of Inquiry version was a basis to work from with four minor changes.

"The key difference between the Board of Inquiry NPS and the current NPS as promulgated by the government is that the former set an environmental bottom line and required rules on freshwater quality that recognised the intrinsic values of freshwater. So the Green Party's plan reintroduces an environmental bottom line.

"It is imperative that the next step is to develop a National Environmental Standard for water quality and environmental flows and levels. As proposed by the Greens, this would ensure consistent bottom lines for water quality and water quantity and methods for measuring and reporting.

"The Greens also propose adopting a minimum standard for intensive agriculture and a fair charge for irrigated water. Given that over 90 percent of our lowland rivers in pastoral catchments are polluted, it is appropriate to have targeted measures to address the impacts of intensive agriculture and irrigation.

"The third element in the plan is to support water clean-up initiatives.

"EDS considers that such initiatives are a good use of public money if there are robust criteria for the allocation of funds. For some activities, such as riparian planting, it is also appropriate that there is an equivalent private monetary contribution to recognise the role that person had in causing the original pollution, Mr Taylor concluded.

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