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Urgent action needed on dirty rivers

The Our Fresh Water Environment 2017 report re-confirms that we need urgent action to clean up our rivers. Meanwhile, National is standing by as our rivers get even more polluted, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.

“This report is yet more evidence that many of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes are in a bad way.

“Dairy cow numbers have increased by a million since National took office and now many New Zealanders can’t swim in their local river.

“Nitrogen pollution is getting worse. Many of our rivers are unsafe to swim in. Our native fish species are in trouble. Without change, things will get worse.

“We have reached, and in many places exceeded, the limits of what our environment can bear.

“Just because farmers were allowed to pollute last year doesn’t mean they should pollute this year or the next.

“We’ve got to return to Judge Sheppard’s National Policy Statement (NPS) that said increases to land use intensity causing more nutrient and faecal contamination to our waterways should no longer be a permitted activity.

“National ignored these recommendations and spiked the NPS. Its weak substitutes have not worked.

“Rules need to be more strictly enforced against those who are acting illegally. Bad farming practices like ‘spray and pray’, and cows in rivers are happening because there’s rarely any consequence to breaching even the lax rules we have.

“The Environmental Protection Agency needs to be adequately funded so it can prosecute farm directors who are acting illegally.

“There need to be nutrient caps for each catchment based on science and allocated fairly.

“It’s a Kiwi birthright to swim in your local river. If your local river and my local river are clean enough to swim in, then all our rivers will be clean. It's not too much to ask,” says David Parker.