13 August 2021
IrrigationNZ welcomes the Health Select Committee’s final report back on the Water Services Bill that means rural and small suppliers will now have three years from the enactment of the Bill to conduct assessment and put in place mitigation measures to ensure safe drinking water.
“We wholeheartedly agree with the intent of the Three Waters reform and want to ensure rural communities have access to safe drinking water and prevent what happened in Havelock North from occurring again,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive, Vanessa Winning.
IrrigationNZ published their submission on the Water Services Bill to the Health Select Committee in March 2021. The submission sought a better outcome for small drinking water users in rural areas, while still delivering on the intent of the Bill.
“IrrigationNZ’s submission was well received by the Health Select Committee and in their report back they have acknowledged the need for a more workable approach for our rural suppliers,” says Ms Winning.
"We would like to see a ‘Healthy Homes’ approach, where councils and regulatory bodies incentivise adoption of acceptable solutions such as UV filters or backflow preventers.
“We’d also like to see existing frameworks such as the Integrated Farm Plan or Farm Environment Plan used as an approach for water registering and mitigation, meaning certified farm consultants would be authorised to sign this off after appropriate training, reducing the cost and time burden on farmers of additional compliance mechanisms.”
For irrigation schemes supplying water in bulk, or for council distribution, we will work with Taumata Arowai on how we can get practical access to required water and who then is considered the ‘supplier’. Treating water at source when its primary use is for application on plants and soils is impractical and potentially damaging to those plants, so workable solutions prior to being used as drinking supply will need further consideration to ensure supplementary use can continue.
IrrigationNZ will work with Taumata Arowai during the three-year period on developing acceptable mitigation options to ensure drinking water standards will be met.
“Everyone wants safe drinking water, and our smaller suppliers and rural communities are most vulnerable to being exposed to unsafe water supply. Once the Bill is enacted we look forward to working constructively with Taumata Arowai over the next three years to ensure a clear and practical pathway for rural water suppliers’ implementation, keeping our communities healthy and well,” concludes Ms Winning.
Media comment: Vanessa Winning: 027 274 1291
About Irrigation New Zealand
IrrigationNZ represents over 3,500 members nationally, including irrigation schemes, individual irrigators, and the irrigation service sector. Our irrigator members include a wide range of farmers and growers – sheep and beef, dairy and cropping farmers, horticulturalists, and winegrowers. We represent over 120 irrigation service industry companies – manufacturers, distributors, irrigation design and install companies, and irrigation decision support services.
We are a voluntary-membership, not-for-profit incorporated society whose mission is to create an environment for the responsible use of water for food and fibre production.
As an organisation we actively promote best practice irrigation and carry out a range of training and education activities. Over the last five years we have trained over 3,000 irrigators on different aspects of irrigation best practice to improve water use efficiency and better manage environmental effects.
IrrigationNZ members share many of the same goals as other New Zealanders:
- to reduce their environmental footprints and see improvements in the health of our waterways;
- to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities; and
- to provide for a sustainable future for New Zealand.