Westbury calls for Kāpiti community to have their say on fresh water

Waikanae Community Board member James Westbury is urging the people of Kāpiti to have their say on the Government’s recently released consultation document on freshwater – Next steps for Fresh Water.

The consultation document sets out how Government proposes to improve the management of fresh water in New Zealand.

“This is an important document as it will set the framework as to how fresh water is used and protected.

“The stated objectives of the proposal are better environmental outcomes, enabling sustainable economic growth to support new jobs and exports, and improving Maori involvement in freshwater decisionmaking.

“New Zealand is very lucky as we have an abundance of fresh water,” says Mr Westbury.

New Zealand consumes 145 million litres per person each year – six times as much as Australia, 16 times as much as the US, and 70 times as much as China or the UK.

The consultation document proposes new criteria around efficient and sustainable use, supporting economic development, and encouraging good management practice, and sets out how Maori can be better involved in setting limits and planning for fresh water.

Mr Westbury says New Zealand’s water quality is generally good but there are problems we must address. “If we are to maintain our clean green reputation action needs to be taken. It will only take a few examples to the worlds media and our reputation will not be as resilient as we think.”

Over the 25 years of the Resource Management Act 1991, councils have significantly reduced pollution from point source discharges (through pipes) for the likes of factories, municipal sewerage schemes, and from dairy sheds. However, the system has not been working in dealing with the more difficult problem of diffuse pollution. This includes nutrients, pathogens and sediments from intensive farming and from storm water in towns.

“What needs to happen now is that the consultation document needs to be strengthened to support improved water quality that is supported by the community. This is a difficult challenge, I admit.

“Where does the pendulum sit, balancing environmental and economic concerns?

“It is important that you have your say as this is not just a national issue but also one of considerable local importance given some of our local natural assets,” he adds

Mr Westbury suggests the public take the opportunity to read the consultation document online at www.beehive.govt.nz/ sites/all/files/ and make a submission.

“Without your contribution we may not leave a legacy for our children.

“Careful consideration needs to be given to both environment concerns as well as economic development. A clearer description of the trade-offs needs to be made,” says Mr Westbury.