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Water quality issues and the sticky point of Ruataniwha

Water quality issues and the sticky point of Ruataniwha tackled at WaterNZ conference

“When it comes to water quality - are we playing a long game or a short game?” asked lawyer Helen Atkins, partner at specialist environmental law firm Atkins Holm Majurey, at Water New Zealand’s annual conference today.

In her presentation, Ms Atkins pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency Board of Inquiry process around the Ruataniwha applications. Ms Atkins talked about contradictory issues which have come about following the ‘infamous’ Ruataniwha legal decisions:

“All signs point to the same end – that of improved water quality, but they differ as to the
method of getting there, and the appropriate timeframe. This has caused confusion for practical implementation of legal outcomes.

“The Ruataniwha consents set a fairly high bar for nutrient leaching limits, potentially limiting farmers’ production. The Courts and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment have said that catchments are not allowed to use an ‘overs’ and ‘unders’ approach to setting nutrient limits. Yet past comments from the Ministry for the Environment seem to support this flexibility, and amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 may be forthcoming.

“We might then ask ourselves what we think is the right route to take, and the right balance to
strike? We all want good water quality but there is tension between pragmatic targets and aspirational goals.”

Water New Zealand’s 57th Annual Conference & Expo is being held at Claudelands in Hamilton from 16 – 18 September 2015. See more here: http://www.waternzconference.org.nz/

ENDS

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