Dominion Post: Government efforts on water “shallow”

In its Wednesday editorial, the Dominion Post tackles the issue of freshwater quality in New Zealand, and last week’s release of the Government’s compulsory minimum standards for freshwater ways.

“The Government still isn’t serious about cleaning them up,” the editorial concludes.

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An excerpt: (read in full here)

Unfortunately, the bottom lines are too timid. They mandate that water must be clean enough that people who use it for wading and boating have only a “moderate risk of infection”. That’s hardly encouraging.

There is no requirement to make water safe for swimming, so plenty of rivers will remain off-limits to those wanting to jump in.

As for preserving freshwater ecosystems – the plants, shellfish and fish that fill our lakes and rivers – the standards are not much stronger. Some important measures are not among the bottom lines, experts say other indicators are being measured in inappropriate ways.

Murray Gibb, the chief executive of Water New Zealand, responded to the editorial with an opinion piece published in Friday’s Dominion Post. He writes:

For the first time New Zealand will have a national objectives framework for freshwater and some bottom lines. A reference group of scientists came up with those bottom lines. Good policy is based on sound evidence – in this case from water scientists.