What do you consider is the biggest issue facing Environment Waikato?
Management of freshwater. Both allocation and quality need addressing.
The Waikato region is today consuming ten times the amount of freshwater than it did twenty years ago. This sort of growth is clearly not sustainable, and we therefore need to ensure we have effective mechanisms in place to manage the allocation of freshwater, with a view to ensuring the needs of people, municipal, stock drinking and renewable electricity generation are sufficiently met, and that additional takes are managed in a fair and appropriate way.
The quality of our freshwater is in constant decline, and while we know the fundamental reasons behind this decline, the solutions are far from straightforward.
Despite the current negative publicity surrounding “dirty dairying”, point source discharges are under reasonable control, and I am confident that the next few years will see significant improvements in compliance, along with land user acceptance of increasing public expectations regarding this issue.
Non point discharges and diffuse nutrient losses however, present quite a different challenge altogether. I’m confident that the agricultural industry will get a good handle on managing this, but it won’t happen overnight. Constructive collaboration between science, agriculture, and the community will be essential as we move forward on this issue, with a view of ensuring that the inevitable concessions that all parties will have to make, meet expectations.
The inevitable setting of standards for the state of our waterbodies, along with a timeframe for achieving these standards will require informed debate by all parties, and may well require instruments such as a NPS to guide those charged with achieving the desired outcome.
Clean fresh water is vital, both for humans and livestock. Ignoring the continual decline of our freshwater quality is simply not an option. One thing is certain, the need for change has never been more certain.
Happy to provide more detail if you require.
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