Federated Farmers backing partnership approach to improving water quality

Environment Minister Nick Smith
Environment Minister Nick Smith

A partnership approach to dealing with river and lake water quality offers the best prospect of making sustained progress on problems that were often decades in the making, Federated Farmers says.

The Federation's water spokesperson Chris Allen hailed the announcement of an initial $44m in grants from the $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund, particularly as it will leverage a further $98 million of investment by councils, farmers, other land-owners and agencies.

In total, 33 projects covering more than 100 lakes and rivers have won funding, including at Lakes Tarawera, Horowhenua and Wanaka and involving the Manawatu, Wairoa, Waimea and Selwyn Rivers.

Environment Minister Nick Smith says the money will fund the fencing of waterways from farm animals, planting along streams, development of wetlands, sewage reticulation and water storage to increase minimum flows.

There are also initiatives in the package to eradicate water weeds, remove pest fish and to retire marginal land adjacent to waterways.

"It's great to have acknowledgement from the government that it's expensive to restore water quality in these hot-spots to a level that meets the standards expected by government and all New Zealanders," says Mr Allen.

"It's often more than individual communities or sector groups can do on their own. We're going to get there by working together, and this announcement is certainly a good step in the right direction.

"As Federated Farmers noted in its 2017 election manifesto, sustainable results, both environmentally and economically, will only be achieved with all members of the community, including farmers, working together catchment by catchment." Funding deeds will now be negotiated with the successful applicants.

Most of the projects are being overseen by councils, the Department of Conservation and environmental and iwi trusts but two multi-regional projects involve the Foundation for Arable Research (protecting our groundwater) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (improving freshwater through enhanced outcomes on sheep and beef farms).

- Te Awamutu Courier

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