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The Freshwater Rescue Plan

Written By: - Date published: 8:17 am, June 10th, 2017 - 12 comments
Categories: Conservation, disaster, Economy, election 2017, Environment, farming, Maori Issues, sustainability, water - Tags: ,

Meanwhile, back in NZ, a league of concerned scientists and groups has come up with a bold, no nonsense plan to do the right thing by our freshwater.

From RNZ

A cross-sector group says successive governments’ inaction on degraded waterways has spurred them to come together to forge a new plan for freshwater.

The organisations include Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, Choose Clean Water, Greenpeace, Tourism Export Council and the Federated Mountain Clubs.

Their Freshwater Rescue Plan lays out seven steps for future governments to follow if they want to be serious about saving the country’s lakes and rivers.


The Plan.

The Freshwater Rescue Plan launch (video starts at 7 min 20)

A unique moment and an opportunity for change.

We don’t need any more reports, so here is a seven step plan on what the government can do immediately to save our freshwater. This is for all political parties. Whoever takes over in September can work with this plan.


From Scoop

This plan is backed by leaders from major tourism, public health, conservation, environmental and recreation organisations, and experts in ecology, public health, and Māori, Pacific and Indigenous studies.

The organizations who put this together hope that all parties can commit to the Freshwater Rescue Plan so that the elected Government in September can take immediate action to restore New Zealand’s rivers and lakes.

From Stuff

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said he had never been involved in such a plan in his 30 years with the group.

“The issue has got so serious that everyone is circling the wagons,” he said.

“The environmental groups and the agencies interested from a passive perspective are the ones actually doing the hard yards in terms of the advocacy, it’s not central Government. It’s a really sad indictment for a country reliant on its natural resources.”

Supporters of the Plan

Forest and Bird

Fish and Game

Choose Clean Water

Federated Mountain Clubs


Tourism Export Council

Public Health Association of NZ

Ora Taiao NZ Climate and Health Council

Fresh Water Foundation

Professor Russell Death,  freshwater ecology, Massey University.

Dr Michael Baker, professor of public health medicine, Otago University.

Dr Alex MacMillan, New Zealand Climate and Health Council.

Professor Paul Tapsell, School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, Otago University.

Dr Dan Hikuroa, Earth Systems science and mātauranga Māori, University of Auckland.


12 comments on “The Freshwater Rescue Plan ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    A realistic set of points and so we can be assured that National and their cult followers in delusion will ignore and denigrate them.

  2. Couple this development with this report:
    and we are seeing a pattern of significant change. Though it sticks in the craw, don’t paint the “others” with too broad a brush; there’s a lot of movement inside of the industry; recognise it when it appears and help it flourish. The “top” will be the last to move, but if we fixate on those figures, we’ll disable ourselves where otherwise we could be drivers. The Freshwater Rescue plan is a powerful development.

    • bwaghorn 2.1

      good words Mr Guyton,use facts and patience ,anything else just smells like wedge politics,

    • weka 2.2

      Very true. I also like that the Plan is unequivocal about what needs to happen. Farmers need to be supported in that change, but there’s no mucking around now with tinkering on the edges.

  3. Grant Henderson 3

    Just like the “Save Manapouri” campaign from the 1970s – the people do what the political invertebrates in Wellington are too scared or incompetent to do.

  4. Ad 4

    Looks the Fresh Water Forum revived well. I support this effort.

    Can’t wait for that Ruataniwa Dam decision to come out before the election.

  5. Jenny Kirk 5

    And immediately following that announcement, came the Labour Party policy on freshwater management. Yesterday at 5pm. NZ Herald. Not a “me too” ….. Labour has been working on the issue for some time – going right back to 2008 or earlier.
    The point about auditing regional councils is really good : too many regional councils have just ignored any requirements to monitor, prosecute, or reduce the amount of cattle wandering into unfenced rivers and streams.

    Quote from Herald – 9.6.2017


    Labour would make it tougher for farms to intensify operations under a 12-point freshwater policy launched in Havelock North this evening.

    The party’s policy seeks to crack down harder on polluters, make all rivers and lakes swimmable and extend freshwater quality standards.
    Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith has criticised the policy as “vague” and says it “fails to pass the fairness test”.

    At the policy’s core is a new National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management, based on principles recommended eight years ago by former head Environment Court Judge David Sheppard.

    Under the NPS, any further increases in farming intensity, including more livestock, irrigation or fertiliser per hectare, would no longer be a “permitted activity”.

    “So if you are going to turn an ordinary piece of pasture into a feedlot, or a low density farm into a high density farm with food supplements or irrigation, you’ll need a resource consent – and sometimes you won’t get it,” Labour environment spokesperson David Parker said.

    The new NPS would also require rivers and lakes be clean enough for people to swim in during summer without getting sick.

    Parker said more than 60 per cent of monitored freshwater sites were graded poor to very poor for swimming, while, since 2008, stress from dairy farming had worsened, with an additional million dairy cows producing the equivalent waste of 14 million humans.

    The party would adopt freshwater quality standards that covered pathogens, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, periphyton and macroinvertebrate health, with bottom lines to reduce diffuse pollution of freshwater by set deadlines.
    Labour would require all intensively stocked land near waterways to be fenced off within five years, and fund either the Ministry for the Environment (MFE) or the Environmental Protection Authority to enforce the law by prosecuting breaches of the Resource Management Act through local Crown solicitors, including the right to reclaim costs from the guilty party and the regional council.

    Further, the Audit Office would be ordered to audit annually every regional council as to whether they were properly carrying out their legal responsibilities to protect freshwater, Parker said.

    Each regional council would be made to report annually to MFE on whether, and how, city or district council rules within the region were adequate to protect waterways.

    “Some regional councils have been farmer dominated and they’ve never been given a budget for their staff to prosecute – therefore their plan is not enforced,” Parker said.

    “I know that people are really pissed off that their rivers are being wrecked by some irresponsible farmers – and they want their politicians to help fix it.”

    To prevent the extinction of freshwater species, the party would also consider whether a moratorium on commercial fishing was needed.
    “We’ll really give it serious consideration because it’s terrible that we’ve got some of our native species threatened with extinction,” he said.
    “But I think in the end the bigger cure here is water quality.”

    [link and formatting added – weka]

    • Ad 5.1

      Good timing from Labour there.
      And good policy.

      The big addition from central government needs to be carrot as well as stick:

      If regional councils have measurable improvements, they should get fat central government cash to accelerate those improvements.

    • weka 5.2

      I also think the timing is good, which suggests that there was some co-operation between various interested parties (likewise the Greens).

      It would be good if Labour comms could start updating their website when they release policy. I can’t find it there, but have tweeted them.

    • Ad 5.3

      In a joint statement, Greenpeace, Tourism Export Council of NZ, Fish & Game, Forest & Bird, and Choose Clean Water make it very clear that the Labour policy on fresh water and clean streams is far superior to Nationals’:


      ..but there is more detail that they want to see.
      The group also want an explicit commitment to reduce the total dairy herd.

      Looks like the common timing worked out well.

  6. ianmac 6

    What a great Plan. Hooray and congratulations. Hope those with the power act on it.

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