Minister is encouraged by the picture painted by two new water reports

Environment Minister Amy Adams has welcomed the release of two environmental water reports, saying they paint an encouraging picture of the country’s waterways but also underline the need for the Government’s freshwater reforms.

The indicator reports on river conditions and swimming suitability were released by the Ministry for the Environment.

The river condition indicator is based on data that was collected across more than 300 regional council and NIWA-monitored sites over a 10-year period (2000-2010), out of the tens of thousands of waterways across New Zealand.

The media release from the Minister says:

The report shows that overall concentrations of nutrients and bacteria are either stable or improving at most monitored sites, and that water quality is generally improving.

The swimming suitability indicator provides a summary of monitored swimming sites. It reflects a precautionary approach to managing public health risks, which means that even a very small risk will be flagged through a lower grading.

The report shows that many swimming spots are affected in wet weather as a result of stormwater runoff. At some sites, heavy rain and wind can churn up sediment from the bottom of the waterway, releasing pathogens back into the water.

Other common sources of water pollution are urban stormwater systems, livestock, fertilisers and dense populations of wildlife.

Ms Adams said the Government’s freshwater reform programme is critical to improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

“Issues with our waterways have been building over a number of generations, and it is going to take a similarly long time to fully realise solutions for these issues.

“The key tenet of the Government’s proposals is that improving our water management system will require solutions that start now and build over the long-term. There is no quick fix.”

The two water indicators can be found at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/environmental-reporting/about-environmental-reporting/national-environmental-indicators/index.html

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