Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said he was pleased the Government had finally released its proposals for cleaning up the country’s waterways but much more work is needed to ensure that the package will deliver for the environment and communities.

“I am sure we can all agree that water is a precious resource and we have a responsibility to ensure future generations can use and enjoy it. For many years now we have had a focus on managing water use and those activities that might affect water quality to achieve the fine balance of protecting and enhancing the environment while supporting a regional economy. However, as new
information becomes available the challenges become more apparent. ”

“We have and continue to work with water users to encourage best practice and using the resources and tools available to us good results have been achieved. We are fortunate water quality in Tasman overall is good and we know where further improvements can be made.”

Mayor Kempthorne said the Government’s proposals need to be carefully assessed. “There are cost and timing implications for the Council and all water users and this is reflected in the message from the Government - it will cost all sectors to improve our water quality but it is a cost we will all have to bear.”

“The reality is that the pace of freshwater change can only go as fast as a community’s ability to pay. This is particularly so when you consider all the infrastructure works we have in the pipeline as well as repaying the costs of previous upgrades to urban storm water and waste water treatment plants, the purpose of which has been to better manage our water resource.”

Mayor Kempthorne said he was concerned about the plan making proposals as they related to only water. “As a unitary authority we seek to integrate our resource management responsibilities – nothing stands alone, everything in the environment is connected to something else and water is no different. Removing decision making from local representatives to a central body makes the
connection with interrelated activities difficult, which I believe, is a backward step.”

“I encourage people to let the Government know what they think of the proposals. It is especially important to explore the costs they may face and the ability communities have to contribute to the decision-making process. Such contributions can only lead to needed improvements when the final package comes out.” 

“Significant changes of this nature involve trade-offs. The Government needs to allow time for those to be fully understood and managed, the social and economic cost of rushing this could sit with our communities for decades to come.”

“I know the Government is trying to make the system more responsive and agile. Unfortunately we are dealing with legacy issues and improvement in freshwater is a long-term game. What changes behaviour faster is on-the-ground support and incentives for landowners and resource users to make the necessary changes. I notice the provision of new budget to assist and welcome this.”