Government’s water plan making waves

This week the government released their National Policy Statement on Freshwater, sparking debate about how the country deals with one of its most crucial resources.

While aiming to strengthen a regime protective of New Zealand’s waterways, the freshwater package also outlines new plans for increased irrigation – which may more of a problem than a solution. The New Zealand Herald’s Economics Editor Brian Fallow presented his take on the freshwater policy statement in today’s Herald.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Government’s water plan making waves

The Government announced a water policy package this week.

The narrow-eyed, curled-lip view of it would be that the Government is happy to spend millions of dollars cleaning up polluted waterways, but much more on activities liable to befoul them.

The more charitable view is that the country needs to earn a living as a trading nation and the package is a valuable first step towards a regime that facilitates that, without sacrificing the swimmability and fishability of our rivers.

Farmers have long clamoured for more investment in water storage and irrigation.

The problem is not that New Zealand is running out of water, they say, but that water is running out of New Zealand.

In summer when demand is highest, flows are often at their lowest.

The Government says it wants to take pressure off aquifers and make greater use of the very large flows in alpine rivers.

The amount of water that can be taken for commercial uses – 75 per cent of it irrigation – has doubled over the past 10 years, but still represents only 2 per cent of the total fresh water resource.