Hit the refresh button for water
OPINION: Anyone with an opinion or agenda about water quality has received plenty of media play of late.
We regularly hear about ‘‘dirty dairying’’, ‘‘industrial dairy farming’’ and just the other day I heard someone on breakfast television talking about ‘‘rivers of milk.’’ There are no rivers of milk. Some of the debate is constructive but much of it is narrowly focused, emotional and politically driven. There seems to be no appreciation of the bigger picture.
Yes, in New Zealand, as it is all over the world, we have a problem with water quality. I would suggest that no one section of the community of New Zealand has a better understanding of it than those who live rurally. Because we are part of the problem, we accept that we need to be part of the solution.
The people who live in rural New Zealand are living and breathing it all of the time. We are well aware of the part we need to play.
No doubt about it, dairy has seen some huge growth. Some of it has come from the fact the sheep and beef industry hasn’t been able to compete for its traditional land use base.
It has also come from the opportunity the dairy industry offered, one that has been taken up by some big players.
However, it needs to be appreciated that the foundation of farming in New Zealand is still based on the family farm. That gives a strong sense of ownership and a determination to get things right for the generations who will follow us.
We are a fourth generation farm in Reporoa. There is plenty of environmental enhancement activity happening in rural areas for which to date very little credit has been given. What has been done is reflected in the fact that 80 per cent of our waterways have an improving or maintaining water quality trend.
On our farm our streams are all fenced and we commit up to $6000 annually to riparian planting. The Healthy Rivers Plan Change for the Waikato River will see us all working under farm environment plans and a focus on good management practice.
To use our farm again as an example, we have also identified three infrastructural issues which we will put right in the next 18 months.
Water quality is trending in the right direction and the key factor will be time. The proposed Healthy River Plan looks out over 80 years.
There is no quick fix, but it is understood and being worked on; as with the housing crises or traffic issues in our big cities it won’t be resolved overnight.
The over use of punchy oneliners to score political points but offer no solutions will achieve nothing.
Water quality is a hot topic.