31 August 2016
Environment Minister Nick Smith’s excuse that pollution from birds and geothermal activity is the real reason why his Government will not commit to swimmable rivers is completely baseless, the Green Party said today.
Dr Smith said last night that amending the Government’s policy on water so that the minimum mandatory standard for rivers is that they are safe for swimming is ‘impractical’, and cited bird colonies and geothermal activity as reasons why.
“We asked the regional councils how many waterways in their area are affected by birds and geothermal or volcanic activity, and the numbers are minimal,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
“Dr Smith is just using this as an excuse for why he won’t commit to swimmable rivers. He knows, as we all do, that the real and lasting damage to our rivers is from stock in waterways, farm run-off, sewage and intensified dairy farms among others – he just won’t admit it.
“Protecting our rivers so they are safe for swimming doesn’t fit the Government’s view that water is a resource to be exploited for economic gain above all else. This view has left nearly two thirds of our lowland rivers unsafe to swim in.
“The Green Party has practical solutions for turning off the pollution and protecting our rivers so that we and future generations can enjoy them for years to come. As we travel the country on our Swimmable Rivers tour, we’re talking to communities, mana whenua and councils about how our solutions would work for their river.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive – people really want our rivers to be safe for swimming and are prepared to do the work to get them there. It’s a shame the Government doesn’t have the same commitment or passion for our environment,” said Ms Delahunty.