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Government ‘in Denial’ Over Water and Rivers Crisis

Government ‘in Denial’ Over Water and Rivers Crisis

Government is “in denial” over the deteriorating state of New Zealand’s water resource and rivers says a national freshwater angling organisation.

“During a television interview about Havelock North water supply crisis, Prime Minister John Key said on television, that the country could still claim a ‘100 percent pure’ status,” said Tony Orman, author and media spokesperson for the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers. “That’s denying the real situation that our water standards have withered to approaching that of a third world state. If that isn’t enough, Minister for the Environment Nick Smith, has set a low bar for river quality.”

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith earlier this week presented a state of the environment speech at Lincoln University where he outlined the Government's objectives towards freshwater management and said a target of making rivers swimmable, was "impractical".

“Yet bizarrely Minister Smith at his Lincoln address, reportedly outlined one of the goals for freshwater management was improving water quality,” said Tony Orman. “How the yardstick can be lowered to ‘achieve better water quality’ is sleight of the mouth stuff.”

Tony Orman said Minister Smith’s praise during his address, for the government’s hand-picked Environment Canterbury council was not unexpected. Government removed the democratically elected ECan council in 2010, replacing it with its own six commissioners. It then suspended reinstating elections but next month (October) will partially restore elections by having seven elected and six government appointed commissioners. A fully elected council has been promised for 2019.

“It remains to be seen whether government breaks that assurance for 2019 after promising fully elections before this,” said Tony Orman. “In any-case it was insulting to the public to replace a democratically elected council with a government puppet council.”

Government’s disappointing responses of denying the country’s growing and precarious state of water quality and flows, should be assessed in the light of New Zealand’s relatively small population of less than five million people.

“As a country we are less than one Australian city (Sydney) yet we have declining water quality and rivers and stream flows severely depleted and increasingly so,” he said.

“Anglers are on the rivers and have noted the diminishing freshwater resource. In essence – trout and other freshwater species are the canaries in the coal mines.”

An awareness was needed that aquifer flowing beneath the ground and rivers flowing visibly above the ground are one and the same - “deplete the aquifer and the river flows decrease."


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