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Groups unite on freshwater policies for healthy water

Environment, health, recreation, and water infrastructure groups have come together to support four essential policies to save fresh water in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Public Health Association, Forest & Bird, Fish & Game New Zealand, Environmental Defence Society, Recreation Aotearoa, Greenpeace, Water New Zealand, Whitewater NZ, and Choose Clean Water released a joint statement today outlining four fundamental policies needed in the Government’s freshwater reform to put the country on the right path to healthy water and a healthy future.

Download the joint statement: Healthy Water, Healthy Future.

All nine organisations agree fresh water is in crisis in New Zealand and effective reforms which set science based limits on pollution are necessary.

The groups emphasise that responsible leadership and effective freshwater policy, with Te Mana o Te Wai as its framework, is needed to put Aotearoa New Zealand on the right path.

The first policy in the joint statement supports the stronger pollution limits in the Government’s proposed freshwater policy, which are recommended by scientists and based on achieving ecosystem health.

The first policy says, “We especially support the addition of the following new measures for the health of our waterways: dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) with a bottom line of 1mg/L, sediment, and a wetland extent and wetland condition index.”

The proposed measures for freshwater health will allow for much better monitoring for ecological health in waterways, providing better information on the presence of fish, and whether waterways are healthy for swimming.

The second policy in the joint statement calls for the Government to take a different approach on setting pollution limits. The current proposed policy would allow high polluters to lock-in their current level of pollution, essentially rewarding those with a high pollution starting point.

The third policy in the statement rejects one option in the Government’s proposed freshwater policy to make farm plans regulatory instruments.

“Farm plans are a useful tool to support decision-making for farmers and land managers. However, clear and effective rules must be prioritised as the best way to achieve the Government’s stated goal of measurable improvements within five years,” the joint statement says.

The fourth policy in the joint statement says, “there are many sources of freshwater pollution. We agree all sectors, regions, and communities must play their part in protecting and restoring the health of our waterways.”

It urges the Government to hold hydro-schemes, forestry, agriculture and stormwater management to account and make sure that future policies are made consistent with the proposed new Government freshwater reforms.

The joint statement from nine organisations shows unity across New Zealand on improving freshwater quality and broad agreement on how to achieve it.

ends

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