Party dedicated to healthy rivers
Putaruru’s Blue Spring has been labelled ‘‘ pristine’’ by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman but he has panned a $100 million effort by National to fence waterways in an effort to improve water quality.
Norman visited the spring on August 3 to point out the difference between the spring and the Waihou River in Te Aroha.
In an effort to promote his message, Norman took a sample of Blue Spring’s water then compared it to the murky waters only 75km downstream.
Norman got his hands dirty and kayaked down the ‘‘polluted’’ river as a part of the party’s healthy rivers campaign.
Though the waters come from the same source there was a clear difference.
‘‘This is the reality of what’s going on.
‘‘The water is so degraded that the Waikato Regional Council labels the river unsatisfactory for swimming and 100 per cent of tests in the last five years for nitrogen and phosphorous show unsatisfactory levels.
‘‘ There is a growing gap between the brand New Zealand uses to portray itself to the world and the reality of the state of our waterways.’’
Norman said most people buy bottled water at some point in their lives but not many know where it comes from.
‘‘Sixty per cent of New Zealand’s bottled water comes from the pristine waters at Blue Spring. We market that water on our clean green brand,’’ he said.
The blue spring is also an example of a popular swimming hole. Yet Norman said that is not the case for many waterways across the country.
‘‘We need to close this gap and ensure all New Zealand rivers are safe to swim in and enjoy.’’
On August 2 National pledged to spend $100m over 10 years to buy and retire farmland next to waterways to provide a buffer and improve water quality.
The party is also promising to ban dairy cattle from waterways as it seeks to combat growing concern over the state of New Zealand’s rivers, streams and lakes.
But Norman dismissed the policy as ‘‘ an election Band-Aid on a gaping wound’’ because it did not address the main cause of water pollution – intensification of land use.
His said his hands- on approach would hopefully help people to open their eyes to their surroundings.
‘‘ It’s about connecting New Zealanders with their rivers and lakes.’’
According to the environmentalist, forestry to farming conversions, sewerage systems and dairy intensification all contribute towards polluting waterways.
Filling up: Green Party co-leader Russel Norman tests the clear waters at the Blue Spring in Putaruru.