Party ded­i­cated to healthy rivers

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

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.

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