A fresh start for fresh water

  • Nick Smith
  • David Carter
Agriculture Environment Budget 2011

Environment Minister Nick Smith and Agriculture Minister David Carter today announced the Government's fresh water policy package saying improved water management is needed to grow the economy while better caring for our rivers, lakes and aquifers.

“This balanced package is about getting the right rules and funding in place to support irrigation development and economic growth, while ensuring protection of the environment,” the Ministers said.

The package comprises:

• A National Policy Statement on fresh water management to set a consistent, nationwide regulatory framework for setting water quantity and quality limits to govern the allocation and use of freshwater
• An Irrigation Acceleration Fund of $35 million over five years to support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the ‘investment-ready’ prospectus stage which could unlock the economic growth potential of our primary sectors through the development of more efficient and effective water infrastructure, such as storage and distribution
• A Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund to assist councils with historic pollution problems with reprioritised funding of $15 million over two years, and a total clean-up programme commitment of $264.8 million
• The Government will also consider in a future Budget investing up to $400 million of equity in water infrastructure schemes.

“This water reform package is the Government's initial response to the Land and Water Forum's final report presented to the Government in April. More work will be required by officials on the wide range of other recommendations made by the Forum. We want to continue to work with the Forum and iwi on the Government's ongoing programme on water,” Dr Smith said.

Mr Carter said New Zealand's abundant fresh water resources were a real competitive advantage for our primary and tourism industries.

“These steps are about improving the management of water to support a growing economy and the great Kiwi lifestyle of swimming, boating and fishing.”

The Ministers said: “This water package demonstrates the Government’s commitment to maximising the economic growth opportunities of water – our most plentiful natural resource – while protecting our environment.”