Fish and Game - Farming sector urged to back Water Conservation Order

The farming sector is being urged to build on its pledge to make all rivers swimmable by backing the application for a Water Conservation Order on Hawke’s Bay’s Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers.

The surprise pledge for swimmable rivers was made yesterday by Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Dairy New Zealand, Beef and Lamb and other major industry bodies.

The groups made the announcement on the banks of the Ngaruroro River.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson has welcomed the promise and says they need to demonstrate their commitment with positive action.

Mr Johnson says the Ngaruroro River is a good place to start.

“The timing for the swimmable pledge and the decision to make it on the banks of the Ngaruroro is perfect. The deadline for submissions supporting the Water Conservation Order for the Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers is tomorrow afternoon.

“Given the tight deadline, I and the other groups which have made the joint application for the Water Conservation Order would be happy to help with the submission to ensure it is in on time,” Mr Johnson says.

The application for the Water Conservation Order has been jointly lodged by a group of organisations, including Fish & Game, Ngati Hori ki Kohupatiki, Forest & Bird, Whitewater NZ and Jet Boating NZ.

“I urge all the agriculture organisations which have now publicly committed themselves to improving the quality of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and streams to show they are serious about taking strong action,” Mr Johnson says.

“A Water Conservation Order is the equivalent to National Park Status for a river. There are only 15 for the whole of New Zealand and Fish & Game is responsible for 12 of them. I would be delighted if there was a Water Conservation Order secured by Federated Farmers or Fonterra,” Mr Johnson says.

The deadline for public submissions is 4pm tomorrow, Thursday 24 August.

Once the submissions are considered, the Special Tribunal will then hold a hearing and write a report, including a recommendation on whether to grant the Water Conservation Order.

The final decision will be made by the Environment Minister.

If approved as the applicants are asking, the Water Conservation Order would cover the entire Ngaruroro River, including its tributaries and connected groundwater, and seven kilometres of the Clive River and its connected groundwater.

“The Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers are wonderful waterways and deserve protection. They have many truly outstanding values and having a Water Conservation Order will ensure they are both protected for the sake of the environment and the public’s enjoyment now and generations to come,” says Mr Johnson.

Anyone wanting to make a submission can do so on the Environmental Protection Authority website www.epa.govt.nz/ngaruroro