Nick Smith, New Zealand’s Environment Minister, and Agricultural Minister David Carter yesterday announced the introduction of a new process to reform New Zealand’s fresh water.
The move comes at a time when the government and other organisations, such as the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development have concerns about fresh water supplies and the importance of putting measures in place to avoid problems such as water shortages across the country. Nick Smith said,
“New Zealand’s abundant fresh water resources are the envy of many other countries and the key to our competitive advantage in agriculture and renewable energy – as well as being essential to our environment and lifestyle. The problem is that our system of management has not kept up with the extra pressure on our water system.”
Nick went on to say that the plans announced are about a process being put in place to develop solutions to the problems in conjunction with Mâori and stakeholders. David Carter expressed concern about the impact that failing to act would have on New Zealand’s economy.
“New Zealand has plenty of water, but not always in the right places and at the right times. This has led to demand outstripping supply and economic opportunities being constrained. Water is a vital input for the primary sectors, which are collectively the biggest export earner and employer in New Zealand.”
This morning, Chief Executive of the Business Council, Peter Neilson, spoke about the business opportunities that would arise from the planned water reform at an EDS Reform in Paradise conference taking place in Auckland. Mr Neilson spoke of the importance of setting minimum volumes in order to protect the environment, recreational and municipal use, and to put in place processes to allow water allocation that is not used to be transferred to other users. Mr Neilson said,
“People will be delighted at the strong new focus on finding the right answers in time to deliver effective, agreed, reform before we face an horrendous crisis imposing huge unnecessary costs on the environment, taxpayers, water users and economic growth.”