The Green Party today announced it will invest $20 million per year for ten years to help small towns and communities upgrade sewage treatment systems.
The announcement is the fourth component of the Party’s environmental priority this election: rivers clean enough for swimming and beaches safe from oil spills.
Many small communities struggle to pay for the infrastructure required to keep sewage out of their rivers. That is why the Green Party is re-establishing the Sanitary Works Subsidy Scheme (SWSS) for smaller communities, but with stronger environmental criteria. The SWSS scheme was established in 2002 but National wound it up, with the last funds allocated in 2013.
The key points of the Green Party’s scheme are:
- $20 million per year for ten years will be allocated to help communities upgrade sewage treatment systems;
- Priority will be given to communities where there are health risks posed by the community's existing treatment, disposal and discharge system;
- The maximum subsidy for eligible capital works will be 50 percent for communities up to 2000, reducing proportionally to 10 percent for communities of 10,000;
- Priority will be given for projects that find land-based solutions for sewage.
“Families should be able to head down to their local swimming hole or beach and jump right in the water without worrying about getting sick,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
“We must stop National from using our rivers as drains, and establish or upgrade wastewater systems where needed.
“Some of our waterways are being used as drains for partially treated sewage. The Green Party will re-instate a Government funding scheme to help councils upgrade their sewage treatment systems and implement land-based disposal solutions.
“Councils such as Hurunui in Canterbury have called on the Government to re-instate the scheme. The Green Party has listened because we recognise that smaller communities with a low rating base need help to upgrade their systems.
“Too many small communities with few ratepayers can’t afford to fix their sewage treatment systems. Our rivers shouldn’t have to pay the price for a lack of Government support.
“National is turning a blind eye to how the faecal and nutrient pollution from wastewater discharges are ruining our rivers and lakes.
“The major decline in our rivers and lakes over the past decade has largely been due to agricultural intensification. However, towns and cities have contributed to the pollution problem and need better wastewater systems.
“There are over 425,000 kilometres of rivers in New Zealand. Rivers are our lifeblood – culturally, spiritually, and economically and it’s in all our interests to make them clean and healthy.”
Dr Norman said that in the run up to the election the Green Party would announce further policy in its three priorities area: rivers clean enough to swim in again and beaches safe from oil spills; ensuring every child has enough to thrive; and a smarter greener economy that benefits every New Zealander.