Putaruru's Blue Spring has been labelled as ''pristine'' by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman but he's panned a $100 million effort by National to fence waterways in an effort to improve water quality.
Norman visited the spring to point out the contrast between the spring, which provides 60 per cent of the country's bottled water, and the downstream Waihou River in Te Aroha by collecting samples from each and kayaking down the river as a part of the party's healthy rivers campaign.
Though the waters come from the same source there was clear difference.
''This is the reality of what's going on.''
''The water is so degraded that the Waikato Regional Council labels the river unsatisfactory for swimming and 100 per cent of tests in the last five years for nitrogen and phosphorous show unsatisfactory levels.
''There is a growing gap between the brand New Zealand uses to portray itself to the world and the reality of the state of our waterways.
''We need to close this gap and ensure all New Zealand rivers are safe enough to swim in and enjoy.''
Norman said most people buy bottled water at some point in their lives but not many know where it comes from.
''Sixty per cent of New Zealand's bottled water comes from the pristine waters at Blue Spring. We market that water on our clean green brand,'' he said.
National pledged to spend $100 million over 10 years to buy and retire farmland next to waterways to provide a buffer and improve water quality.
The party is also promising to ban dairy cattle from waterways as it seeks to combat growing concern over the state of New Zealand's rivers, streams and lakes - though that ban would not apply to cattle from non-dairy farms.
But Norman dismissed the policy as ''an election band-aid on a gaping wound'' because it doesn't address the main cause of water pollution - intensification of land.
"We genuinely believe that you actually can increase your agricultural output but at the same time seeing improving water standards in New Zealand," National leader and Prime Minister John Key said.
"Wealthy economies look after their environments and they do that because they have the financial resources to do it."
- Waikato Times
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