Water quality hearing

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
An Environment Court hearing looking into water quality continued yesterday in Invercargill as appeals on the proposed Southland water and land plan progressed.

Yesterday, Judge Jane Borthwick heard evidence from Fonterra and Dairy NZ expert witnesses.

Much of the hearing focused on the wording of aspects of the plan, such as the specifics of the region-wide objectives.

During cross-examination of witnesses Justin Kitto and Gerard Willis, it was agreed there were issues with water quality in Southland.

The court had previously heard from scientist Kathryn McArthur, representing Forest and Bird, that faecal contaminants, indicated by the presence of E. coli, were elevated in many rivers in Southland, and the level of nitrate-nitrogen was another important factor to manage.

Forest and Bird lawyer Sally Gepp asked if Mr Willis agreed there was an urgent need for the region to make changes to improve water quality, to which he replied, ``certainly there are issues that need to be addressed'', but how quickly that happened would be a policy decision.

Mr Willis said improvement would need to start as soon as it could be done ``sensibly''.

When asked by Judge Borthwick what he meant by ``sensibly'', he said ``sensibly to me means in a way that doesn't pick on individuals [land owners] but can spread the burden across the entire catchment''.

The hearing is set to continue next week at Ascot Park Hotel and is expected to last until the end of the week.

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