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Public Confidence in Environmental Protection Authority shaken

Public Confidence in Environmental Protection Authority shaken

3 November 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Water quality campaigners are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to hold its Chief Scientist Jacqueline Rowarth to account after she claimed that the Waikato River is one of the five cleanest in the world.

Rowarth’s reported comments came while addressing a meeting of landowners and farmers in Pukekohe.

But the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society, which represents more than 400 freshwater scientists and professionals throughout the country, says the claims are false.

The society says Jacqueline Rowarth’s statements on the Waikato River are based on outdated data and factual errors and the country’s freshwater experts want the record set straight.

The freshwater campaign group Choose Clean Water says the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) must act now to reassure New Zealanders.

“Because of the significance of the role Ms Rowarth now holds, she should be responsible for the statements she has presented to the public,” says Choose Clean Water spokesperson Marnie Prickett.

“The EPA is in charge of decisions relating to significant infrastructure that will have serious impacts on freshwater such as the proposed Ruataniwha dam and its Chief Scientist has been found to be incorrectly interpreting water quality data.”

Marnie Prickett says the public needs to be able to trust the EPA.

“New Zealanders deserve to be provided by government agencies with information based on a high standard of research. In light of the expert criticism of Jacqueline Rowarth’s claims on the state of the Waikato River, how can the public now trust that information provided by the EPA will be correct?”

“We call on the EPA and its Chief Scientist Jacqueline Rowarth to explain to the New Zealand public how this error in interpretation came about and what will be done to make sure any information provided by the EPA in future won’t be based on factual errors or outdated data.”

“The issue is just too important to get wrong,” Ms Prickett says.

ENDS


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