5 Jul 2014

Dairy support for water strategy

9:24 pm on 5 July 2014

The dairy industry is confident it can work with new national fresh water standards which, for the first time, set minimum quality requirements for rivers, lakes and aquifers.

A dairy farmer inspects his herd.

A dairy farmer inspects his herd. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The Government said the new standards, announced on Thursday, were based on the work of more than 60 freshwater scientists.

Opposition parties have condemned them as being too weak to clean up polluted waterways.

But dairy industry body Dairy New Zealand supports having a minimum framework to work from.

DairyNZ sustainability, strategy and investment leader Rick Pridmore said local communities could set higher standards if they wished.

"And what we're keen on when that happens, is that we make sure we're focused on fixing a problem," Dr Pridmore said.

"If there's a water quality issue, the dairy industry wants to be part of that solution and that's why we support the national policy statement.

"And the important thing is, to fix many of these issues, we have to make sure we do them in very clever ways, because if we take the lazy way of finding a solution, we will often hurt the socio-economic benefits as well."

Dairy farmers always wanted to fix problems, and in the cleverest way possible, he said.

Horticulture New Zealand also supported the standards and said the country's 5500 commercial fruit and vegetable growers were looking forward to a time when all regional councils would manage their waterways in the same way.

Until now that had been a forlorn hope, a spokesperson said.

A big highlight for HortNZ was the requirement that communities must consider the value of food production when deciding how their water was used, they said.