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National’s flood excuse does not wash

Question time in Parliament today flushed out the silly “flood” excuse used against the swimmable – rather than wadeable – standard needed for our rivers, Labour’s Water and Environment spokesperson David Parker says.

“The Prime Minister and Environment Minister have tried to claim that they can’t enforce swimmable rivers because they are occasionally polluted by floods.

“A swimmable standard for rivers would stop pollution by farms, factories and towns making otherwise clean rivers so dirty they are unsafe to safely swim in during normal, rather than flood, flows.

“Nick Smith today – and John Key yesterday – looked foolish using the flooded river excuse for polluted rivers, because New Zealanders know they don't go swimming in silt-laden overflowing rivers that could sweep them away to their death.

“New Zealanders should be able to swim in their local rivers. If everyone’s local rivers are clean, then all our rivers will be clean enough to swim in.

“This comes at a time when there is public outrage over billions of litres of water are being given free to bottling companies. New Zealanders know this is not fair either.

“Given Nick Smith’s acknowledgement last week that the main cause of declining water quality is livestock effluent and fertiliser, it is obvious National’s failure to stop increased farm pollution of our rivers is the main problem.

“National’s attempt to defend the indefensible wadeable standard shows they are out of touch with the fair minded New Zealanders who just want to be able swim in their local river,” David Parker says.