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Freshwater Report Underlines Serious Need For Water Storage Investment

Data and findings in the Freshwater 2020 report, released today, provide powerful backing for the case for greater investment in water storage.

The Ministry for the Environment report says soils at one quarter of monitoring sites are drier since 1972, rainfall was below average in nine of the years between 2000-2014 and river flows are predicted to decrease in the north and east of the country.

"Water storage is not just about securing supply for primary production purposes, though as has been underlined with the COVID-19 lockdown, agriculture is vital to our economic future and standard of living," Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

"Storage schemes allow us to harvest water at times of high flow for when we need it over the hot months in our cities and towns, and for all our industries. Better storage above and below ground is an investment in our future."

And it will save the government having to dish out extra funding in times of emergency need, as we’ve just seen through the summer.

The Freshwater 2020 report also highlights messages Federated Farmers has long promoted, including that we’re all in this together in that sources of water pollution are myriad, including from forestry, and that hotspots and problem contaminants vary from catchment to catchment.

"Those catchment-specific issues bring people together and farmers in all of our regions are mixing in with environmentalists and wider community groups to make improvements that tackle local problem areas and priorities. Blanket rules are expensive and often ineffective."

MfE’s report makes it clear progress is being made but there’s a long way to go. Farmers have demonstrated they are willing to do their bit, Allen says.

"When the government recently called for ideas for stimulating employment as we move down the COVID-19 alert levels, we raised the economic and environmental benefits that would come from a ‘Taskforce Farm’ approach - meaning boosting investment in pest and wilding pine control, and in riparian planting and catchment action groups.

"That’s a practical way for the government - and all of us - to respond to the Freshwater 2020 findings."

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