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Report confirms Govt weakening water standards

Report confirms Govt weakening water standards

11 May 2017
For Immediate Release

A NIWA report released today has confirmed that the Government’s water policy is weakening swimming standards for rivers and lakes, which campaigners say will only make the problem of widespread contamination of freshwater worse.

Freshwater campaign group Choose Clean Water say the report is irrefutable evidence that the Government’s water policy has weakened swimming standards as they and scientists suspected, allowing higher levels of faecal contamination in the rivers where New Zealanders swim.

Spokesperson for the group, Marnie Prickett, says that the public has repeatedly called on National to get serious on dealing with the widespread pollution of waterways by setting swimmable as the bottom line.

Instead of taking action on water pollution, she says, the Government has put its energy into shifting the goalposts by redefining swimming standards.

“The public has been clear for a long time that clean, safe, swimmable rivers and lakes must be the priority. Redefining swimming standards does nothing to address the serious situation we have in our communities with contaminated water and, in fact, will make our country’s problems worse.”

The student-led group says it is disgusted with the attitude of the Government, and that the public and country deserve better.

“The Minister for the Environment has lost credibility on this issue. His Government lowered freshwater standards to “wadeable” then, when the public rejected this in favour of the swimmable bottom line, the response was to
shift the goalposts.”

“We have a beautiful country. The public are saying that they want to look after this beautiful place and care for their kids by having strong protection for rivers and lakes and standards that don’t allow more faecal contamination of water.”

“The Government should respect the public and work with New Zealanders to achieve clean, safe and truly swimmable rivers not try to trick them.”

In March last year, Choose Clean Water, along with Hīkoi Wai Tapu who had walked from Turangi to Wellington, marched on parliament with a 13,000-signature petition calling for a swimmable bottom line for rivers and lakes.


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