20 Feb 2016

Plans to improve freshwater criticised

6:43 pm on 20 February 2016

New government measures aimed at improving the quality and management of freshwater are already being panned as inadequate.

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Photo: 123RF

The government has announced 23 initiatives to improve the quality and management of freshwater.

They include making certain dairy and pig farmers fence their stock from waterways as soon as July next year, with a gradual rollout to dairy support farms by 2025, and all beef and deer farms by 2030.

Those who did not comply could be instantly fined.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said it was unrealistic to make all farmers comply sooner, as fencing off thousands of kilometres of waterways would come at a big cost.

Labour's Environment spokesperson David Parker said the plan paves the way for water quality to worsen, with government having the right to veto water conservation orders.

"I find it astounding that it's going to be 2030 - a decade and a half away, before we get our dairy beef, and other beef cattle, out of our rivers.

Mr Parker said there had been a terrible decline in river quality over the past 15 years.

"I'm a person who swims in rivers, I go tramping, some of the rivers I used to swim in are much dirtier now and under this prescription they'll get much dirtier still."

Irrigation New Zealand said more immediate action was needed, especially on water infrastructure, for the economic development of many regions.