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Wednesday, 12 August 2020 08:25

Irrigators want seat at table

Written by  David Anderson
Irrigation NZ has 3500 members irrigating some 800,000 hectares around the country. Irrigation NZ has 3500 members irrigating some 800,000 hectares around the country.

Irrigation New Zealand is calling on whoever forms the next government after September 20’s election to join with it to develop a national water strategy for the country.

This call is part of the irrigation lobby’s recently released 2020 Election Manifesto, which was released late last month.  The manifesto asks that IrrigationNZ is at the table in the development of a national water strategy to guide the future of water management and investment across New Zealand.

It also wants a commitment for more water storage which it believes will ensure rural communities are resilient to climate change and assist with land-use change to meet the country’s future carbon targets

The lobby’s manifesto calls for…“policies that support irrigation and the environment, through monitoring, farm environment planning, innovation, and adaptation.” It also wants to see a resolution to Māori rights and interests in freshwater.

“We offer support to iwi, hapu, and whānau groups about access to water and efficient, effective, environmentally sensitive irrigation development, where appropriate and beneficial.”

The manifesto also wants to see a water allocation framework that provides certainty and reliability of supply. “Whilst providing for multiple uses and benefits for economic, social, cultural, and environmental well-being.” 

The lobby says that it can assist with this policy work through its expertise in managing complex changes to allocation frameworks in catchments with multiple stakeholders and water uses.

“Freshwater use in New Zealand involves multiple aspects and is integral to life,” chief executive Elizabeth Soal says. “IrrigationNZ wants to see this precious resource better managed through the development of a water strategy for NZ.” 

She adds that is already focused on freshwater across various policy areas such as the Ministry for Primary Industry’s Fit for a Better World, Ministry for the Environment’s Essential Freshwater policy package and the Department of Internal Affairs Three Waters reform and establishment of new drinking water authority, Taumata Arowai.

“All these issues could be aligned with a water strategy to guide and lead decision-making and funding allocation at the central, regional, and local level,” Soal says. 

“As part of this, we would also like to progress a frank conversation with the Government and stakeholders about water storage and irrigation development which does not shy away from both the benefits and the impacts.”

She adds that with primary industries as the backbone of this country for the foreseeable future.

“Access to reliable water is a critical part of enabling this; we must move forward and ensure the right investment and outcomes from best practice water management.” 

Soal says irrigation is a critical component of NZ’s vibrant and environmentally sustainable agricultural and horticultural economy.

“We will work hard towards ensuring that irrigation remains an integral part of a healthy and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand.”

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