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Government freshwater announcement gets thumbs-up from water body

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Water New Zealand, the industry group representing three waters services, welcomes and strongly supports the Government’s approach to freshwater management announced today.

Principal Water Quality Scientist at Water New Zealand Jim Graham says that the action plan set out by the Government is bold, far-reaching and highly significant for all New Zealanders. Despite the progress that the farming community has made in recent years to improve environmental outcomes, New Zealanders want to see more progress on water quality improvements.

The Action for healthy waterways discussion document indicates that the Government intends taking a much needed leadership role in setting the direction for local government and others to follow while acknowledging iwi and hapu leadership in influencing management and attitudes to water.

It also acknowledges the initiatives that community groups and water users are taking to protect water ways. The broad range of initiatives will provide an integrated programme intended to give expression to Te Mana o te Wai, the health and wellbeing of water and the people connected to it.

Jim Graham says that "while the plan proposes being restrictive of some things that adversely affect water quality, like farm intensification and draining of wetlands, the approach is also inclusive of those who will be affected and indicates that assistance will be provided to those who need to change the way they do things. The setting of new clear bottom lines in a number of areas through National Policy Statements, National Environmental Standards (NES) and requirements for Environment Management plans is overdue and will ensure the approach in New Zealand is consistent with other affluent western countries."

Water New Zealand is particularly encouraged by the intended requirements for the protection of sources of drinking water through a NES. "Equally encouraging is proposals for a national wastewater discharge standard, long overdue, and application of a risk management approach to wastewater and stormwater." Jim Graham says. "A risk management approach has been very successful globally and in New Zealand in improving drinking water quality. It makes sense to apply this approach to wastewater and storm water also."

While some may consider that the proposals go too far and others not far enough, Water New Zealand considers that the broad, integrated, and comprehensive proposals, if implemented will take New Zealand in the right direction of improving water quality, protecting public health and Te Mana o te Wai."While this package of initiatives will have a significant impact at a Council level - that’s what New Zealanders want" says Jim Graham.

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