[8 June/ Radio NZ]

Successive governments’ inaction on degraded waterways has caused a cross-sector group including Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, Choose Clean Water, Greenpeace, Tourism Export Council and the Federated Mountain Clubs, to come together to create a new freshwater plan. The Freshwater Rescue Plan details seven steps for future governments to follow to ensure the country’s lake and river longevity. The steps include immediately reducing cow numbers, withdrawing irrigation funding and re-directing the hundreds of millions earmarked for these schemes into an agricultural transition fund. Massey University Professor of freshwater ecology Russell Death said the current National Policy Statement on water was not what any scientist envisaged. Environment Minister Nick Smith said some of the suggestions, such as reducing irrigation schemes, were simplistic and government was creating an ambitious plan for fresh water improvement. Under the launched rescue plan, there would be strict and enforceable water quality standards based on human and ecosystem health limits.