Water pollution comes from other sources beside dairy (see post last night), so a broader solution is needed, than just best-practice and full compliance from the dairy industry.
NZ also needs a basic standard for water quality that says all water must be swimmable, and if it isn’t at the moment, then it needs to have a clean-up plan with a set timetable.
As well as pushing the government into action, the Greens are also taking the message to councils. Russel Norman has written submissions to most councils proposing this standard in their LTCCP. He and other Green MPs will soon be appearing before the regional council hearings across the country in the coming weeks, making the case. If the Government won’t, then councils should adopt goals for all rivers and lakes in their region to be safe for contact recreation, with action plans for those that do not meet the standard.
I’ve yet to hear a good argument for why they shouldn’t, except that it is too hard and that’s pathetic.
However, it would be so much simpler if the Government would lead the development of such a standard. One area that the Greens agree with the Government on the need for some serious reform is the issue of water. The Government’s RMA Phase II announcement on Friday includes water as a “work-programme”. I hope that it will be a collaborative and comprehensive one, unlike the last Government’s “programme of [in]action”. It needs to tackle all the hard issues of water quality and agricultural pollution, minimum flows and fair allocation and efficient use of the surplus, urban supply needs, protection for our remaining wild rivers, and even the thorny issues around ownership and iwi. The only effective and durable sollution will be a serious combination of regulation (mostly through the RMA and NPS/NESs), economic signals, Government-led investment, industry investment and initiatives, and public buy-in. On the latter, we know that fixing our water crisis is very important to NZers.