Wastewater plants 'worse than farmers'

18:32, Nov 27 2012

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor says farmers should not be the only ones held accountable for the pollution of rivers.

Mr O'Connor, Labour's primary industries spokesman, said the public needed to be more aware that city and district councils' wastewater treatment plants were more detrimental to the health of rivers than farmers.

"In the past few years farmers have cleaned up their act incredibly. Now it's time for the rest of the country to do the same."

Mr O'Connor was in Palmerston North last week talking to Horizons Regional Council and members of Federated Farmers about the council's controversial One Plan that has been strengthened by the Environment Court. Farmers are worried it could put them out of business.

Varying equations of loss of profitability have been put forward by farming and horticultural organisations that challenge Horizons' predictions of minimal losses if farmers meet the new tighter regulations.

Research by the Primary Industries Ministry predicts losses could be as high as 22-43 per cent, while Horizons claims 1 per cent is more realistic.


Mr O'Connor said losses in the realm of what was predicted by the ministry would put farms out of business.

He said farmers had worked hard to get things right and now it was the turn of councils.

"Some councils have done nothing for many years and now face huge bills that they are going to have to put to their ratepayers.

"That's not going to make them popular, but farmers have been paying for a long time already."

He said clean water was everyone's responsibility not just a small portion of New Zealand.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Ian Mackenzie said he wanted to see a level playing field for councils and farmers.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said councils had to meet standards in the same way farmers had and there were no special rules for them. Fairfax NZ