Greater collaboration from the regional council, farmers, environmentalists, iwi, and the Government is needed to reverse declining water quality in Southland’s Waituna Lagoon, Environment Minister Nick Smith says.
Dr Smith visited the lagoon today where he talked to Environment Southland and locals about the major issues facing the internationally recognised site.
“Regular monitoring is showing that water quality in the lagoon has declined over the past 10 years as a result of increasing sediment and nutrients. The catchment has high ecological diversity so it is vital all stakeholders work together on agreed solutions to stop the lagoon degrading further,” Dr Smith said.
“The Government has faith in the collaborative approach in resolving challenging environmental issues. This approach has been successful with the Fiordland Guardians and in the Rotorua Lakes, has underpinned the work of the Land and Water Forum, and is operating to resolve the complex issues in the Mackenzie Basin and Manawatu River.
“The Government has increased five-fold the amount of spending on fresh water clean-ups. In the Budget we announced an additional $15 million over two years to assist with historical pollution. I urge Environment Southland to make an application to this fund to help contribute towards cleaning up Waituna Lagoon. Any funding will be conditional on the council having proper rules in place to prevent ongoing pollution and also contributing to the costs of the clean up.
“The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management takes effect on 1 July and directs councils to put in place better rules to manage pollution. But we also need to see better compliance with the rules that are already in place.
“There is a huge challenge for Environment Southland in reversing the pollution that is putting the Waituna Lagoon at risk. The Government is willing and able to provide support for the cleanup."