Verve Article - July 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cleaning up our waterways

Much of our focus in Government is on improving living standards, whether it be creating the environment for higher paying jobs or by providing better health care.  But the other essential role of government is to preserve what is special about New Zealand. There is nothing more special about New Zealand than the quality of our natural environment.

New Zealand’s lakes and rivers are a source of national pride. They provide New Zealanders with great recreational spaces and are a huge attraction for our booming tourism sector.

Our freshwater resources are an integral part of Kiwi culture, which is why the Government is more committed than ever to progressively cleaning up New Zealand’s lakes and rivers.

National continues to do more than any Government in history to improve our freshwater quality. We are implementing science-based, practical solutions that don’t have an unnecessary and adverse impact on jobs and the economy.

We have spent $115 million on water clean-ups and committed $350 million – a fivefold increase in funding – for lake and river clean-ups. This compares to a mere $29 million spent by the Labour Government between 2000 and 2008.

Scientific research shows problems with freshwater quality in New Zealand go back many decades and are not just related to increased dairying. There have been numerous attempts to address the issue but it has been difficult to reach consensus on acceptable solutions that address both environmental and economic concerns.

That’s why in 2009 we established the Land and Water Forum (LAWF) as a collaborative process to enable all the key groups to sit down and work out practical recommendations and introduced national regulations to ensure the majority of water takes are metered.

In 2011, following recommendations from LAWF, we announced the first National Policy Statement on Fresh Water and introduced the standards framework in 2014. We’ve also passed the Environment Reporting Act, which requires better reporting on water quality throughout New Zealand.

The Government’s newly established nutrients limits mean dairy conversions will be better managed in areas such as Southland and Canterbury and we are developing a long-term, effective strategy to ensure future generations of Kiwis can enjoy New Zealand’s beautiful rivers and lakes.

Having good quality, clean freshwater has always been one of the National Government’s top priorities and we continue to build on our solid track record.