Palmerston North rally for clean water

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague is attending a Save Our Water rally in Palmerston North on Tuesday.
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Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague is attending a Save Our Water rally in Palmerston North on Tuesday.

Environmental activists pushing for clean, swimmable water are holding a rally in Palmerston North.

Fifteen Save Our Water rallies are happening across New Zealand on Tuesday at 12pm, in line with a petition being received by Green MP Catherine Delahunty in Parliament.

National rally organiser Jen Banje started the petition in January, calling for a halt on water exports until acceptable legislation is in place to protect the resource. 

Banje launched the petition after plans were revealed to pipe glacial water from a dam at Tuning Fork Creek, in Westland, directly on to ships headed overseas.

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Rallies are taking place nationwide, from Whangerei to Nelson and Wairarapa.

Rally organiser Justin Offord said he wanted clean water to be an election issue for all parties this year.

In February, the Government announced a new target of having 90 per cent of New Zealand's lakes and rivers reaching swimmable water quality standards by 2040.

The target will be based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with the European and United States definition.

Offord said the policy needed stricter standards to provide clean, swimmable waterways and safe drinking water for everyone.

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The rally will give Horizons Regional Council and environmental organisations a chance to discuss what is a national and regional issue, Offord said.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague, Green MP Thomas Nash and Palmerston North city councillor Brent Barrett will speak at the Palmerston North rally.

Barrett said he would be attending in a personal capacity, as he hoped the rally would put pressure on leaders to improve the health and security of the country's rivers.

River health had been achieved through positive community action and political will around the world, Barrett said.

He hopes cleaning up waterways will make rivers swimmable and increase numbers and the diversity of native fish.

"We'll achieve this by improvements across the board – smart farming and land use, and improved urban design and wastewater management."

Horizons Regional Council chairman Bruce Gordon will also speak at the rally, which is being held outside Horizons' office on Victoria Ave, Palmerston North.

The rally would provide an opportunity to engage and educate attendees on freshwater issues in the region, Gordon said.

Rallies were one way to address the issue, but getting involved in community planting days and river clean ups also helped, he said.

 - Stuff

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