We asked Rotorua candidates for the general election how they would address water quality issues.
Todd McClay, incumbent Rotorua MP, National party
Last week I announced $6.5 million for a long awaited Lake Tarawera sewerage scheme as part of National's ambitious plan to improve freshwater quality. We want 90 per cent of our rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040.
Rotorua Lakes have made good progress with Lake Rotoiti having the greatest improvement in water quality of any lake in New Zealand. National's plan includes new environmental regulations to keep livestock out of waterways and tools to tackle nutrient discharges and nitrogen and phosphorus levels.
I'm committed to clean and healthy Rotorua lakes.
Ben Sandford, Rotorua candidate, Labour party
Rotorua is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the world.
I grew up swimming in our lakes and it's still one of my favourite things to do on a hot summer's day. Labour's water policy recognises the importance of our waterways. By setting strong freshwater quality standards we will ensure they are protected, restored and truly swimmable.
We will also charge large commercial water users who profit from our water, and the revenue will be circulated back to councils to restore our waterways for future generations.
Richard Gillies, Rotorua candidate, Green party
There is already a strategy in place for Rotorua and it is a very well developed plan. It is a bit of a signpost on what will happen in all of the sensitive catchment areas. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council, community and iwi are well ahead of the game.
Our focus this election is a levy on water bottling and developing water pricing for all major water users. As part of our commitment to make New Zealand carbon neutral by 2050 we will re-forest more than a million hectares of land, which will include sensitive catchments such as Rotorua where nutrient loads need to be reduced.
Wendy Biddle, Rotorua candidate, Maori party
Our people have a saying, "When the land is fine and the water is clear, the people will be fine as well." The issue of water quality is a high priority. Maori have had an enduring relationship with the wai, the water, since the dawn of time.
We need to work together to improve the quality and the spirit of the water. We do this by creating opportunities for communities, scientists, farmers and businesses to come together to seek solutions. I stand as a voice for everyone, we need to make sure everyone's voice is heard.
Te Ururoa Flavell, Waiariki candidate, Maori party
Water, the health of the environment and people are inextricably linked. Only by recognising this can we improve the mauri (quality and vitality) of water and safeguard the resource for future generations. Our freshwater resource needs to be better managed if it is to remain sustainable which is why Te Mana o Te Wai (the health and wellbeing of water) is to be at the heart of all decisions.
We want Maori to play a greater role in the stewardship of water, to be the kaitiaki of the resource, but we want those who use the water to be charged with protecting and preserving it.
Tamati Coffey, Waiariki candidate, Labour party
Clean rivers and lakes are a taonga of huge significance to Maori in the Bay of Plenty and are a birthright to all of us. We now live in a country where even my dogs can die from lapping up water with toxic algae in it. It's time to restore them to what they used to be. Under Labour, polluters and people that bottle our water for big profits, will pay. Then our councils and communities can focus on putting kaitiakitanga into practice and being true guardians of our waterways. The Treaty of Waitangi interest already recognised by the Waitangi Tribunal and the courts will be honoured too.
Fletcher Tabuteau, Rotorua based MP, New Zealand First
New Zealand First says more work must be put into town and city waterways and cleaning them up.
We will work with our lake communities supporting the development and installation of the sewerage reticulation and treatment schemes. Work with stakeholders on workable reductions in nutrient applications and carrying capacity. Support local government with more stringent enforcement measures for illegal dumping. Work closer with local iwi groups to enhance and protect our Rotorua lakes and rivers. Encourage and support planting, beautification and protection of waterways.
We need a plan that leads to actual reductions for the benefit of our lakes and future generations.