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Water Campaigners Welcome Greens’ Focus On Nitrogen Pollution

Water campaigners are welcoming the Greens’ focus on nitrogen pollution in the party’s ‘Farming for the future’ policy released today.

“Excessive nitrogen in our waterways is impacting the health of people, rivers and lakes, and wildlife right now,” Choose Clean Water spokesperson Marnie Prickett says.

“We are very pleased to see one of New Zealand’s main political parties commit unequivocally to a 1mg/L nitrogen bottom line for waterways as this is essential to protect the health of people and to restore our most polluted rivers, lakes and aquifers.”

Choose Clean Water says the decision by the Government to delay finalising the Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen bottom line for 12 months was the biggest disappointment of the new freshwater policy released earlier this year and appeared to be due to pressure from polluting industries executives, particularly those in the dairy sector.

“The majority of the Government’s own science and technical advisory group supports 1mg/L as a sensible bottom line, as did submissions from the public health sector on the Government’s freshwater policy.”

“Research tells us that dairy farmers can maintain and, in some cases, even improve profits while at the same time reducing nitrogen loss from the farm.”

“It’s vital that sector executives’ push to continue current levels of pollution doesn’t undermine pro-active farmers’ efforts or outweigh the need of all people and the environment to clean, safe, flowing water in our rivers, lakes and aquifers.”

The group also welcomes the Greens’ policies on the control of agricultural inputs. Inputs are resources brought into a farming system that can increase the farm’s intensity and its nitrogen loss to water; such as nitrogen fertiliser.

“Strengthening the Labour-led Government’s new cap on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser put in place this year, is a really sensible move that we strongly support”.

“The shift to controlling the drivers of intensified land use, instead of regional councils poorly policing the outcomes (pollution) from it, is long overdue and very welcome.”

The group says nitrogen fertiliser use in New Zealand has grown radically over the last 15 years and the serious consequences of its high use for communities and the environment cannot be the future of farming in Aotearoa.

“Our heavy reliance nitrogen fertiliser is not only a hazard for waterways, it is also a significant contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The more our farming sector in New Zealand can support and restore our natural environment, the brighter and more resilient the future of farming and Aotearoa will be.”

Choose Clean Water has been campaigning to clean up rivers and lakes for people, wildlife and nature by strengthening water policy since 2016.

They say New Zealand has made important steps in the right direction but still has some way to go to reverse the trend of decline of waterways common throughout the country.

ENDS

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