New Zealand has been ''blessed'' with abundant supplies
of fresh water, but its availability and quality is declining
and it is becoming a scarce resource.
That comment was made yesterday by Dr Grant Blackwell, the
principal science adviser for the Parliamentary Commissioner
for the Environment.
Compared with many other countries, New Zealand's freshwater
was generally of good quality and did not have to be shared
with other nearby nations, he said in a talk to the
University of Otago's 49th annual Foreign Policy School.
It was not the fault of any single industry or of a single
generation, but freshwater was becoming a ''scarce
resource'', he said.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of hectares previously
used for sheep and beef farming had been converted to dairy
This had resulted in ''significant increases in nitrogen and
phosphorous levels'' in waterways, and corresponding declines
in water quality.
Central and local government had started to develop new
policies, plans and rules, but their effectiveness would
depend on whether they were ''based on an understanding and
acceptance'' of the relationships between land use change and
If they were not, ''there are risks for both our freshwater
environment and our economy'', he said.
Dr Blackwell said the approach of the Parliamentary
Commissioner for the Environment was ''not about blame'' but
to make available ''fundamental ideas and information'' to
politicians and the community.
An ecologist with a PhD from Massey University, Dr Blackwell
also undertook research for several years at the University
of Otago Centre for Sustainability.