The government of New Zealand recently announced its plans to free the country’s freshwater sources of pollution. Water pollution is a problem that has plagued the country for years making a majority of its rivers and lakes too contaminated to swim in.
New Zealand’s environment minister David Parker released an ambitious action plan to accomplish the daunting task. “Our rivers, lakes, and wetlands are under serious threat after years of neglect. We can’t continue to go on like we are,” says Parker.
“If we don’t fix things now they only get worse and will be more expensive to fix,” he added.
The environment ministry reports that two-thirds of all the rivers in the country are unswimmable. The problem has also made a negative impact on the country’s biodiversity with three-quarters of its freshwater fish species severely endangered.
People of New Zealand have also been directly affected by the impact of widespread water pollution in the country. Citizens are encouraged to check for health hazards on their local council sites if they plan to be in the water. Contaminated drinking water affected 5,000 people back 2016 leading to four deaths after it was found that Havelock North’s water supply was tainted with feces from sheep.
The Guardian cites cow effluent and fertilizer run-off as the largest pollutants of the country’s freshwater resources.
As part of the government’s efforts to improve the country’s waterways, NZ$229m has been allotted to aid farmers in shifting to sustainable farming practices. This news was received with an uproar from farming communities.