The Government must get its head out of the sand about dairy conversions and its view that water’s economic value is greater than its environmental value, to repair the state of our waterways, the Green Party said today.
The comments come on the back of Waikato River Authority’s poor report card, giving the river a C+ overall. The river will take the better part of a century to repair, while millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours have been dedicated to cleaning it up.
“One of the most polluting activities for water is dairy farming, which is continuing to grow along the upper Waikato catchment. The waste from those cows will undo the good work already done downstream, including good work by local farmers taking care of their land,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
“The Government is paying for water clean-up with one hand, and encouraging pollution with the other, as if the dairy downturn hasn’t shown us its short-term thinking isn’t working.
“The Government made a commitment in the 2008 Waikato Tainui settlement to work with Tainui to restore and protect the river, but continues to see the river as an economic resource to be plundered.
“The Government can’t seem to get its head around the idea that waterways are about more than economic growth, and should be protected from sources of pollution such as dairy farming.
“The Green Party will set higher water quality standards instead of the lax standards currently in place, so that New Zealanders don’t have to be afraid to go swimming or collect food from a river or lake.
“We called for Landcorp to stop its large dairy conversions in the upper Waikato catchment last year, and we’re pleased they’ve listened and are reviewing how they will use their leased land,” Ms Delahunty said.