Forum report important step towards better water

Forest & Bird today welcomed the government’s release of a report from the Land and Water Forum setting national bottom lines for water quality, saying it laid down a clear plan for reversing the relentless decline in New Zealand’s water quality.

“This is a really significant breakthrough towards much better water quality in New Zealand,” Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell said.

“This is a massive step forward for everyone, including iwi, the community, conservationists and the agricultural and industrial users of water,” he said.

Kevin Hackwell is a Land and Water Forum trustee and member of the ‘small group’ that drew up the recommendations contained in the forum’s second report, which was released today.

“Forest & Bird is really pleased that the Forum’s 60 stakeholder and five iwi members reached a consensus on setting national bottom lines for the water quality of our rivers, lakes, streams, aquifers and wetlands and on the need to maintain and improve that quality,” he said.

The Forum also recommended water limits for individual catchments be established in regional plans through a local collaborative process. This would allow local communities to set water quality limits above the national bottom lines for their catchments.

“This process will be much more democratic and less divisive than what happens now, and should ensure a huge reduction in legal conflict over water use,” he said.

“This means we will all be able to put more money and resources into managing our water resources rather than into expensive and wasteful court battles.”

Forest & Bird believes the Land and Water Forum’s second report builds on the foundation set by the Forum’s first report issued last year and the government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater, both of which addressed the need to improve New Zealand’s declining water quality.

“This second report provides the basis for a new way of managing our water, which will be good for all New Zealanders and good for our environment,” Kevin Hackwell said.

“We all want to be able to swim in our rivers and to stop the decline of our native fish species towards extinction. This report is an important step in meeting these goals, and we hope that the government will ensure that its recommendations are fully implemented