The new National Policy Statement (NPS) of Freshwater actually requires regional councils to maintain or improve water quality while giving the wider community the choice of how far they want to go to improve our lakes and rivers.
If the community wants to ensure that certain rivers and lakes are safe for swimming then that is supported within the NPS. But the NPS also requires they be fully informed as to the effect upon jobs, rates and their local economy, when making that choice.
This Green Party policy reported intent shows a lack of integrity. It cannot be implemented fairly without a huge cost to society and will likely only end up being implemented in rural areas instead of all waterways.
In other words, it will let off the hook some of our most polluted waterways, like Wellington’s Waiwhetu Stream and Christchurch’s Avon, yet insist on higher standards for our rural streams and rivers. This is cynical lip service to comprehensively addressing water quality. We’ll see!
If this is truly a water quality policy then it fails to address the fact that more than half of the water-quality monitoring sites are within 2 kilometres of urban areas and 90 per cent are within 10 kilometres.
The Greens may say the NPS is too soft and they would be harder, excepting of course, those areas where most of its supporters are. A soft exemption regime excusing urban water bodies is playing pork barrel politics with water and really questions their environmental integrity.
The claim that two-thirds of our waterways are too polluted to swim shows little regard for facts. The Dominion Post recently used the “60 per cent” figure in an editorial that drew a rebuke from the Ministry for the Environment, which described the figure as repeating fiction. The Farmers are not happy chappies!
And now the coming election: Makes for some interesting reading. ‘Peters Place’ will post again on this matter in the coming weeks of the election campaign.