Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A fresh start for fresh water

My colleague Nick Smith and I joined the Prime Minister yesterday in announcing the Government’s fresh water policy package which will help grow the economy while better caring for our rivers, lakes and aquifers.

The package is the result of at least two years of work by MAF and is designed to expand on the Government’s economic growth agenda.

It includes a $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund to support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the ‘investment-ready’ prospectus stage. The Fund also supports the development of new water harvesting, storage and distribution infrastructure.

Government will later consider in a future budget, investing up to $400 million of equity in water infrastructure schemes.

I believe New Zealand’s greatest competitive advantage is its water. It’s our “liquid gold”. But to date we have not done a good enough job in using this wonderful resource.

Water quality is deteriorating in parts of New Zealand, especially in agricultural areas. And at peak times, we face water shortages.

National wants to turn this around. If we improve the way we manage our rivers, lakes, and aquifers, water will help us build the stronger economy we’re striving for.

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