Industry body DairyNZ says the Government's proposed National Objectives Framework for freshwater is a step forward as it will help communities by providing a nationally-consistent and scientific basis for assessing water quality.
Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today released proposals for improving freshwater management, including national water standards. The Government is now embarking on a nationwide public consultation process and seeking feedback on a discussion document and a draft amended National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.
"Water is fundamental to our way of life - we use it domestically, it's a must for food production, it underpins many aspects of our national economy including agriculture, it is culturally important, and central to many of the recreational pursuits we enjoy," says DairyNZ General Manager for Policy and Advocacy, Kimberly Crewther.
"It is crucial that we use the best possible framework for making decisions about water. That starts with a science and an evidence-backed framework for consistently determining where our waterways are at. It's important to consider how the choices we make will impact across the broad range of activities and the values our community holds for water," she says.
"The proposed framework comes with some clear bottom lines for ecosystem and human health. We support these bottom lines as proposed and encourage the Government to take a very tight approach to exemptions. The framework allows for staged timeframes.
"DairyNZ also considers it important that where values for water are still to be quantified, that we see a similarly rigorous scientific process."
Ms Crewther says DairyNZ supports the establishment of a collaborative community planning process for setting water policies. "We are hopeful that by coming together at the start of the process to collectively agree values as a community, the result will be in a smoother process, more focused on shared solutions.
"Farmers are more than willing to step up and be a part of those community processes and play their role in taking actions along with other players like councils. This is about working together to find enduring solutions," she says.
Ms Crewther says DairyNZ also supports the proposal to require councils to account for water quality and quantity by tracking all water takes and where contaminants are coming from in regions including urban, industrial and rural sources.
"The industry is already collecting some of this data through the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord because we know we need this kind of information to help us manage our environmental footprint. The new requirement will mean that all sources - not just farming ones - are clearly tracked and monitored. It will give communities much better information and a clearer picture of local issues and where to focus our efforts."
DairyNZ Corporate Communications Manager
Tel: 027 703 0211