20 April 2016

Protect our most precious and vulnerable waterways first, says Environment Commissioner

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has welcomed the Government’s latest discussion document on water quality, but has called for councils to give priority to the most precious and vulnerable rivers and lakes. 

“Water quality has been declining for years and significant improvements will take time,” says Dr Wright. “Not everything can be done quickly, so regional councils must focus on immediate problems and pressure points.” 

Dr Wright today released her advice to Parliament in response to the ‘Next steps for fresh water’ consultation document. 

In her submission, Dr Wright states that the Government has made significant progress and has called for councils and communities to follow through and make the policy work. 

“Regional councils will need to set meaningful limits on pollutants, and follow this up with monitoring and enforcement,” says the Commissioner.

Dr Wright still has concerns about some aspects of the Government’s water policy. One of these is the new Freshwater Improvement Fund. She warns against the Government throwing public money at the issue without proper scrutiny and strong science. 

“The Crown has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on improving water quality to date. This fund must be spent on the right projects and for the right reasons.” 

“The Government also needs to do something about swimmability. It has long been part of our way of life to go down to the nearest river and jump into a swimming hole on a hot day.” 

Dr Wright has made five recommendations on ‘Next steps for fresh water’. Her submission is available here

ENDS 

For more information contact Dan Ormond on 027 251 9849