New Zealand’s rivers and lakes should be swimmable and central Government needs to hurry up to enable it, the Green Party said today.
The National Government’s ‘Next steps for fresh water’ consultation document was released today and is calling for public submissions.
“Measures announced are a recipe for more dirty water, and a disappointment to many around the country who want swimmable rivers,” Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.
“If the water standard continues to be ‘wadable and boatable’, then our rivers will continue to deteriorate.
“There needs to be a national moratorium on further dairy conversions to protect areas such as Waikato lakes and rivers and Mackenzie Basin, and reduce fresh water pollution.
“The Green Party would make swimmable rivers the national standard and set rules that are clear and achieve the improvements that are so desperately needed.
“The consultation document may sound like a step forward but it is in a context of weak overall standards which do nothing to protect the birth right of our children to swim in clean water, let alone the restoration of our native fish species.
“The touted Irrigation Acceleration Fund is not helping the country’s waterways, and is instead leading to further dairy conversions. This is not helping the country’s waterways.
“Allowing such a long time lag for the fencing of all stock out of waterways shows which side this Government is on. Our waterways can’t wait until 2030 to have protection.
“The proposed fines are only useful if actually enforced, and what confidence can we have that fines will be issued?
“The Government has also failed to recognise Te Tiriti o Waitangi and has relegated iwi and hapu rights as a ‘right to have a say’.
“These freshwater announcements are an opportunity lost. Clean water is not a ‘nice to have’ but an essential of life,” Ms Delahunty said.