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New Zealand Officials: Irrigation Funding ‘Not A Good Idea’

A statue of Richard Seddon, the "Beehive" (Executive Wing), and Parliament House (right), in Parliament Grounds, Wellingt

A New Zealand irrigation scheme is being proposed to be banned for five years but the group Irrigation New Zealand is rejecting this plan.

According to the Environmental Defence Society and the Tourism Export Council, the decision of the government to spend a great amount into irrigation is a big risk, considering that the dairy downturn  and the increase in the intensive farming have become a tragedy for streams and rivers,  RNZ reported.

New Zealand irrigation supports a wide range of land uses, such as horticulture, viticulture, sheep, beef and cropping. The dairy accounts for just half of the irrigated portion, having 25 percent related to beef and sheep finishing as well as the remaining quarter to arable crops and vegetable as well as wine and fruit growing, Stuff reported.

A week ago, the government has confirmed a funding worth $1.6 million for three irrigation schemes, which surprised Lesley Immink of the Tourism Export Council that represents over half of the firms that bring foreign visitors, noting that the amount was not addressing the water quality problems of the country.

Greenpeace, meanwhile, asked for the resignation of Prime Minister John Key due to his continued support to the intensive dairy irrigation schemes that is believed to increase the pollution in the rivers and streams of New Zealand.

According to Irrigation NZ’s Andrew Curtis, the country was able to address the environmental challenges, such as legacy water quality problems due to the  progress in the usage and storage of water. He added that because of the rising land intensity, the water abstraction should leave enough amount of water in the streams and rivers to keep a healthy aquatic ecosystem. He further noted that stored water helps the country in addressing the issues on climate change by expanding the flow of the river during summer.

New Zealand irrigation currently accounts for about 60 percent of NZ’s two percent of its water resource, which is low according to the global standards.

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