Thursday, 18 March 2021 10:55

Appetite for change in water usage

Written by  Staff Reporters
Irrigation NZ chief executive Vanessa Winning says there is a need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water. Irrigation NZ chief executive Vanessa Winning says there is a need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water.

A recent report on water management acknowledges that the status quo of water management is unlikely to be sustainable.

The Infrastructure Commission report has the backing of Irrigation NZ.

 “We are pleased the report highlights the need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water to ensure optimal, sustainable and inclusive outcomes,” says Irrigation NZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

“This is long overdue and something we have advocated for.”

The report is one of a series looking at the current state of key infrastructure sectors. These are based on a review of existing literature as well as interviews with experts in the sector.

It is part of commission’s work toward a 30-year strategy for infrastructure and feedback is being sought on the document.

Winning says the report signals that there is appetite for change in water management that can provide a range of social, environmental and economic benefits.

However, she adds that this cannot be done piecemeal at a regional level – the strategy must be driven from the top.

“We see positive change with the Three Waters Review and the focus on freshwater quality, and signals that we are moving toward resolution on Māori rights and interests in water.

“This is all good stuff, but, as part of this, we do also need the value of water for productive use to be part of the solution in strategic water management, rather than being identified as a problem. Irrigation - properly installed and used - is a tool for supporting communities, aiding catchment health, enabling land-uses for high value primary production, and providing access to underdeveloped land for those previously locked out.

“Well planned and executed water storage schemes can provide a range of benefits which will help us work toward a more sustainable, inclusive and productive economy.

“We agree water is an essential resource which deserves long-term planning and expertise to ensure its benefits. We look forward to seeing how Te Waihanga’s report leads to action,” says Winning.

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