Green MP Eugenie Sage launched the party's annual ''dirty water tour'' at the New River Estuary today, jumping in a kayak to get an up-close look at the ailing estuary.
Earlier this month an Environment Southland-commissioned report was released that shows the Waihopai arm of the New River estuary could be eutrophic - dominated by algae and practically devoid of life within 10 years.
Coastal consultant Greg Larkin told the council's environmental management committee that algae growth in the New River estuary in Invercargill and the Jacobs River estuary at Riverton has increased exponentially, increasing sediment and loss of biodiversity.
Both estuaries faced much the same fate as the Waituna Lagoon, Mr Larkin said.
Before she got into her kayak, Ms Sage said troubled waterways like the New River estuary highlighted the need for national environmental standards for freshwater.
These standards would set limits on the amount of water being taken from rivers and lakes, and the amount of pollution going into them, she said.
While the regional council had been making progress, introducing policy such as plan change 13 which meant new dairy farms required a consent, national standards would help back these initiatives up, Ms Sage said.
''There needs to be these strong environmental national standards or what will happen with plan change 13, and other similar initiatives, is they will be contested in the environment court region by region,'' she said.
''We need strong bottom lines and set national environmental standards under the Resource Management Act.''
Ms Sage would be briefed by Environment Southland staff this afternoon on water quality in the region and steps being taken to address the issue.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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