New Zealanders will soon have to compete with the dairy industry for freshwater, report reveals

Press release - April 19, 2016
Our future access to fresh water has been brought into question by a report, published this morning, which explores how New Zealand will be affected by climate change.

Report downloadIncreased demand for water from the agriculture industry will result in heightened competition for freshwater resources, says the report published by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Greenpeace New Zealand agriculture campaigner, Gen Toop, says it’s one of the first times the impact of climate change on potential conflicts over water in New Zealand has been highlighted.

“The report says we’re facing far more intense and regular droughts in many parts of the country. This has already seen the agriculture industry respond by scaling up industrial irrigation. But obviously our communities also need that freshwater to live on, so increasingly, we’re going to be competing with industrial dairying for access to it,” she says.

“The most affected areas are going be rural Māori populations, many of which overlap with drought-prone zones, and all our communities that are dependent on non-reticulated systems for their freshwater.”

Large-scale irrigation schemes are not only jeopardising our access to freshwater, but they’re also failing our farmers, Toop says.

“These schemes cost millions of dollars and are  indebting New Zealand farmers. They’re only happening because the Government is handing over taxpayers’ money to subsidise them. Private investors aren’t touching them,” she says.

IN the three days since launch, over 8,500 people have signed a petition to stop Government funded industrial-scale irrigation schemes.