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Fresh water management deteriorating, Creech says

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, May 9 NZPA - New Zealand's fresh water management is deteriorating and the decentralised system isn't meeting the country's needs, says the lead author of the report that led to the sacking of Environment Canterbury.

Former deputy prime minister Wyatt Creech was in charge of the investigation into Canterbury's water problems and said today there was a much wider issue to consider.

Water management nationwide was not as good as it should be, he said on TV One's Q&A programme.

"We have the most decentralised system of water management of all the countries I've looked at," he said.

"Overall our figures look good because lots of areas are improving, but the lowland rivers and streams aren't looking too good on quality grounds...we tend to have aquifers that are committed or over-committed and very little in the way of reasonably sensible strategic or management plans for dealing with it."

Mr Creech said New Zealand was better off than most countries in terms of the amount of fresh water it had -- 70 million litres per head per year -- but it needed careful management.

"We've got to stop kidding ourselves. We've got good water and we've got to use it properly," he said.

"This highly decentralised system with no national control, I don't think has delivered very well to New Zealand."

Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced that all big users of water are going to be metered over the next few years and Mr Creech said it was "unbelievable" that more than half the water taken in Canterbury was not metered at present.

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