Thursday, September 05, 2019

Cleaning up the water

Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a new National Environmental Standard for freshwater, which will impose controls on dairy conversions, intensification, and winter grazing unless they can prove they will not increase pollution. Farmers will also be required to have nutrient management plans and apply good agricultural practice. Federated Farmers are already whining that it will end pastoral farming in some parts of the country, so that's a definite sign that its headed in the right direction.

In the longer-term, councils are going to have to incorporate all of this stuff into their plans - so they won't just be able to turn a blind eye to nitrogen anymore. Which again highlights the importance of getting the right people on regional councils in this local body election and the next. Because if we let farmers continue to dominate regional councils, they will use their positions to sabotage implementation and enforcement, so they and their mates can keep on polluting for profit.