In the wake of the latest report on the state of New Zealand’s drinking water, Labour, NZ First and the Greens have the opportunity to do what National never did; look after our people, say freshwater campaigners.
“The willingness of the previous Government to risk public health for a quick buck was clear for a long time,” says Choose Clean Water spokesperson, Marnie Prickett.
“The National Government ignored repeated warnings from scientists on worsening contamination of freshwater, encouraged the out-of-control intensification of New Zealand’s farm land, and pointed the finger at urban New Zealanders for their poor water infrastructure while providing zero leadership for struggling councils.”
“If you exploit land and water and refuse to invest in services that protect the well-being of the public, you are willingly risking people’s health.”
Prickett says now is the time for the new Government to show New Zealanders they are serious about dealing with the country’s freshwater crisis and protecting public health.
Choose Clean Water say that it would be wrong to respond by focusing solely on drinking water treatment facilities, likening it to putting a “plaster on a gaping wound”.
“The safety of drinking water sources is linked to the health of land and waterways. To truly protect people’s health we must address the overriding problem of too much pollution going into water in the first place.”
The group says New Zealand’s farming leadership must also take responsibility for the large amount of water pollution the industry is responsible for and the years spent denying there was any problem at all.
“Those who denied the worsening crisis of contaminated water need to take a long, hard look at themselves and then get on with the job of putting it right.”