Present and future generations are suffering the consequences of National’s weak moves to prevent pollution from entering our rivers, lakes and aquifers, the Green Party said today.
The comments follow the publication of Our Freshwater 2017, a report by Statistics NZ and the Ministry for the Environment, which shows how Aotearoa New Zealand’s water and the species that depend on it are affected by urban, pastoral and industrial pollution.
“Water quality in rivers in farmed areas is declining fast, but we can take practical steps to stop that decline. It’s just up to Environment Minister Nick Smith to listen to scientists about what needs to be done,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
“It seems like every week, more evidence is coming to light that our rivers are getting dirtier under the National Government. This report shows worsening nitrogen pollution, primarily from agriculture, which, along with phosphorus, causes excessive weed growth and can make water unsafe to drink.
“Our rivers need a moratorium on new dairy farms, and an end to subsidies for the large irrigation schemes that promote unsustainable intensive farming in environments that aren’t suitable for that kind of farming.
“In cities and towns, we need more attention to improving the quality of urban stormwater. This requires greater investment in slowing, filtering and treating stormwater runoff.
“Water quality and quantity are important because we want rivers that are clean enough to swim in and healthy enough to sustain native freshwater fish species, three quarters of which are at risk or threatened with extinction.
“Water is an important taonga for tangata whenua, who must be able to depend on clean water when gathering kai and for wellbeing. By allowing water to be polluted for short term gain, we’re turning our backs on tangata whenua, and present and future generations who need clean water.
“The Green Party in government will do what’s needed to clean up our water and protect it for present and future generations, by encouraging a shift away from dairy and diversification in agriculture, helping councils invest in better stormwater and sewerage infrastructure, and developing national standards that ensure our rivers are swimmable for everyone,” Ms Delahunty said.