Yesterday, Hon David Parker and I spoke at the Freshwater Management and Infrastructure Forum at Te Papa. The audience was mainly Council staff, irrigators and fertiliser people.
David and I were in agreement that there we must change the standards for freshwater to be genuinely swimmable. We agree that we need a price on the commercial use of water, urgently. I went further with my analysis of the problems. I said we have to abandon a corporate agriculture that is trashing our waterways and that Fonterra, the Government, Councils and the irrigation companies do not have a mandate from the people of this country for business as usual. The Regional Councils are developing complex long-term plans to mitigate the pollution of freshwater but unless they help change the system the diffuse pollution of rivers and lakes will continue.
New freshwater policy but will Nick listen?
The Green Party has some great solutions:
- making rivers swimmable by changing the NPS (National Policy Statement Freshwater),
- setting strong limits for discharges of nitrogen,
- putting a price on the commercial use of water,
- no more dairy conversions,
- a moratorium on bottled water consents,
- a levy on polluters used for riparian fencing and planting,
- reducing cow numbers across the country.
Not only that but we should step up on urban pollution as well. We can design wetlands for stormwater and reduce urban pollution via better clean energy public transport; we can have better wastewater systems that use plants to clean waste. We can also take some of the chemicals that contaminate sewage out of products we use daily.
We simply will not meet a goal of healthy ecosystems with business as usual. It will take something brave and bold. I’m pretty sure Nick isn’t up to the task. We are.