18 Feb 2017

NZers believe fresh water resources in poor state - survey

9:29 pm on 18 February 2017

A survey of New Zealanders' perceptions about the country's natural resources has found twice as many people now blame farming for damaging fresh waterways as in 2000.

Cattle on Waiotu River in Northland - Millan Ruka said the council had a poor track record in stopping pollution.

Cattle on Waiotu River in Northland. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

Lincoln University has released its 8th Public Perceptions of New Zealand's Environment survey, the only one of its type in the world.

The study has canvassed people's views about aspects of the environment for the past 16 years.

The worst managed environments were perceived to be rivers, lakes, and groundwater, largely on account of very negative perceptions concerning the management of farm effluent and runoff. In fact, nearly 60 percent of respondents deemed farming to be one of the three main causes of damage to freshwater, with the other two being sewage and stormwater, and industrial activities.

One of the report's authors, Ken Hughey, said respondents consistently considered fresh water to be in its worst state, and increasingly believe it was caused by farming.

"That is the single biggest stand-out increasing trend I think that we've seen in the survey and I think it matches the increasing interest over the course of those 16 or so years, in or about fresh water in New Zealand."

Mr Hughey said the resources considered to be in the best state were the country's national parks.

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