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Wellington, April 12 – Increasing pressures on lakes, rivers, and groundwater are affecting water quality, ecosystems and people throughout New Zealand, according to a report published on Wednesday.
“While freshwater ecosystems and water quality are improving in some places and for some measures, others are worsening,” said the report “Our freshwater 2023”, published by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, the country’s statistics department, reports Xinhua news agency.
Many lakes, rivers, and other water bodies are under pressure, mostly due to the way people are using land and water, and from the changing climate, according to the report.
Thirty-six per cent of lake monitoring sites improved while 45 percent worsened between 2011 and 2020, based on a nutrient and algae-level measure of ecosystem health, it said.
The report also noted that 45 per cent of New Zealand’s total river length is not suitable for activities like swimming.
Data also suggested 48 per cent of New Zealand’s river network is at least partially inaccessible to migratory fish.
“Clean water and healthy waterways are important. When they’re degraded, it affects ecosystems, communities, people’s lives, and things that are important to New Zealanders from all walks of life,” says Natasha Lewis, deputy secretary, joint evidence, data and insights at the Ministry for the Environment.
“Sadly, as the knowledge of our freshwater environments improves, there is little good news,” said Jenny Webster-Brown, president of New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society.
One of the new statistics is that nearly 70 per cent of New Zealand’s indigenous freshwater birds are now threatened with extinction or at risk of becoming so threatened.
The report provides a sobering snapshot of the state of the country’s freshwater, which has serious economic, socio-cultural and health implications, said Tim Chambers of the Department of Public Health, University of Otago.