a large green field with trees in the background: LAWA & # 39; s National River Water Quality 10-year Trend Review Report found a

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LAWA & # 39; s National River Water Quality 10-year trend overview report found a "mixed bag" of trends in the freshwater ecosystems of the country.

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OPINION: Horticulture New Zealand subjects boards from one end of New Zealand to the other to get water for plants that grow healthy food.

You would think that it is self-evident that plants need water, not only to survive, but to be productive and to produce high-quality, healthy food. From our work it has become clear that there are a number of people in New Zealand, and some of them are councilors, who understand that plants just like humans and animals need water to live.

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Because climate change has consequences for those parts of New Zealand that are predicted to become drier, such as the east coast, water becomes even more important during dry periods. Dead plants do not feed people or animals.

Our water comes from rain. NIWA & # 39; s figures show that 80 percent of the rainwater blows out to sea, another 18 percent evaporates and we use only 2 percent. There is a real mystery here. Councils are gradually advising that some of our rivers and aquifers are fully utilized for the use of water for use in cities and in rural areas. Yet we literally waste millions of liters of water.

We have to become smarter, fast. The solution is uncomplicated: we need to store more water when the river level is high. Innovative projects are under way, such as injecting water back into aquifers during high river flows to provide water in dry periods, storing water for both irrigation and to maintain sufficient flow to keep rivers alive.

a man standing next to a green field

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As a country we have to stop bickering over water and unite ourselves to ensure that people, animals and plants get enough water and that we can all survive. The impact of water storage on the water quality depends largely on what the water is used for. Horticultural crops are unlikely to reduce bathing water quality because they do not lead to elevated pathogens, such as E coli.

We must be able to grow food to feed New Zealanders. We eat the most vegetables that are grown here. The population is increasing and without access to water, the amount of vegetables we grow will not match the demand. About two-thirds of the fruit we grow is exported and, together with some vegetable exports, generates valuable financial income for New Zealand. The value of horticulture is about $ 6 billion, which is predicted by the ministry for primary industries, to grow by 12 percent over the next six months.

In the coming weeks, Horticulture New Zealand will present evidence at hearings across the country in search of a fair allocation of available water.

As the year progresses, more proposals will be made to find water for growing food, not only for plant survival in droughts, but also to be very productive to both feed New Zealand and to add to the economic prosperity of New Zealand.

However, as mentioned above, this has become an increasingly competitive process. That is why we have to look at our collective future and take a serious approach to water storage.

Our rivers, people, animals and plants can get the water they need if we work together as a country to achieve this.

Mike Chapman is CEO of Horticulture NZ