5 Feb 2014

Water proposals miss the mark - Commissioner

10:22 pm on 5 February 2014

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says the Government's plan for looking after freshwater does not go far enough in protecting water quality.

Jan Wright has released her submission on the Government's proposed National Objectives Framework and amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

Dr Wright says there is little in the proposed framework that would prevent increased pollution as a result of land conversion to dairy farming.

Last year, she said modelling suggests that by 2020, an area the size of Taranaki would have been converted into dairy farms.

Dr Wright says a policy framework that supports efforts to protect rivers and lakes is needed.

In November, she told Radio New Zealand that without significant intervention, almost every river and lake will have deteriorated by 2020.

She says that still looks to be the case with the government's as proposals are ambiguous and lack a clear strategy for dealing with water quality.

Dr Wright is concerned councils will end up spending a lot more money on reporting, without any quality benefits.

In her submission on the Freshwater Management plan, she sees nitrate runoff from dairy farms as New Zealand's biggest challenge.