Water charges needed to protect environment

Protecting our finite and precious water resources should be the motivation for putting a charge on water, to ensure it is prudently and sustainably used, the Green Party said today.

“The reason we need a charge on the commercial use of water is to protect water, ensure the community and tangata whenua get a return from private use of a public resource, and help fund better land and water management,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

National’s proposals to make it easier to trade water consents risk creating water barons and making it much harder to tackle the issues around over allocated aquifers and rivers.

“Paying a charge to regional councils or a central agency and tangata whenua that can then be cycled back into more sustainable land and water management and habitat restoration will help ensure water is treated as the finite and precious resource that it is.

“Tradeable water rights do not address the issue of ensuring the community and tangata whenua get a return, nor will they protect the environment.

“We’re pleased that the Government is hinting it may look at charging for water. But National’s failure to set strong bottom lines for water quality mean its plans are more likely to favour irrigators and heavy water users than protect our rivers and aquifers.

“Allowing water to be traded could lock tangata whenua out of a water market which would be a breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“The Green Party in government will implement a charge that ensures water is treated as the finite and precious resource that it is, and ensures that our economy is based on long-term sustainability, not short-term exploitation,” said Ms Delahunty.

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