A farmers' group is rejecting the notion that reducing the national dairy herd is the most effective way to make New Zealand's rivers more swimmable.
Seven rural leaders, including the heads of Fonterra, Dairy NZ and Federated Farmers, yesterday pledged to improve river quality.
The informal Farming Leaders Group said while there had been progress in cleaning up waterways in the past decade, more needed to be done and more rapidly.
One of its members, New Zealand special agriculture trade envoy Mike Petersen, said the goal was to make rivers swimmable for future generations.
"We've made a decision as leaders to stand up and put a stake in the ground and make sure we commit to swimmable rivers for our children and grandchildren.
"Just as we've been able to, in our childhoods, swim in rivers freely, we want our children and grandchildren to be able to do that same," Mr Petersen said.
Environmental and recreational groups cautiously welcomed the commitment, but Choose Clean Water spokesperson Marnie Prickett said more detail was needed urgently about how this would be achieved.