NZ waterways an 'embarrassment'

1:55 pm on 9 January 2017

Environmental groups say freshwater is going to be one of the critical issues in this year's election.

Toxic algae can choke rivers which have a high concentration of nutrients.

Photo: MASSEY UNIVERSITY

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the state of the country's waterways had become an embarrassment. People were right to be outraged about it.

More and more pressure was put on freshwater resources last year and the situation has become critical, he said.

The management, allocation and quality of water was under review by the Government. Public submissions on freshwater reform closed last April, but no decision has been made.

The Environmental Defence Society said it had expected an announcement before Christmas.

Its chair, Gary Taylor, said the Government was moving too slowly. A gap was emerging between public expectation and the pace of reform.

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Photo: AFP

'Massive evidence' of dirty dairying

Meanwhile, Greenpeace says it is time the dairy industry stopped denying intensive dairy farming causes water pollution - and did something about it.

Twelve complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority about a Greenpeace advertisement drawing attention to the impact of dairying on water quality.

The complaints were made on the grounds the advertisement was misleading to put all the blame for polluted waterways on dairying.

Greenpeace argued that the impact of dairying on water quality was widely documented.

The authority rejected all 12 complaints.

Greenpeace's executive director, Russel Norman, said 60 percent of monitored rivers were unswimmable.

There was "massive evidence" dairying polluted waterways, he said.

The industry should do something to protect New Zealand rivers, lakes and aquifers rather than denying it, he said.