New Zealand: ‘There is no water shortage’
New Zealand has “no water shortage” because of a shortage of drinking water, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday.
The comments come after New Zealand’s largest supermarket, Woolworths, announced it would close two stores in the country in the coming months, blaming the country’s water problems on climate change.
The nation’s top official said on Thursday the country was facing “an unprecedented and significant water crisis” that was “inconsistent with our national interest”.
“Our response has been to find solutions and we have done that by working together with the water sector to develop new solutions,” Arderne said.
The New Zealand government has been under fire for failing to address climate change, with Ardernet recently blaming climate change for the state of the countrys water system.
The National Water Council (NWC) said it had warned the country would not be able to meet its 2020 target of getting 1.2 metres (4 feet) of rain per year by 2040.
“Water is the lifeline of our economy, our health, and the economy of our entire country,” Arden said.
“The New Zealander has been a leader in addressing water scarcity, but we are facing an unprecedented and substantial water crisis.”
New Zealand has about 17,000 rivers, streams and lakes, but only one of those, the Ngatiwa, has enough drinking water.
“There is still a lot of water available to be made available to our citizens,” Arnern said.
“It is important that we get that water to our people and to the water that is available.”
New Labour, which is currently in power, said the announcement was “another in a long line of excuses for the New Zealand Government to not do the right thing”.
“They are being dragged kicking and screaming in the direction of blaming climate-change,” National Party MP James Shaw said.
New Zealand’s Minister of Health Andrew Little has told the BBC the country is facing a water crisis and is struggling to provide water for the people of the islands.
“What we’re seeing is a lot more of a problem in the northern islands and we’ve got to work out a way to deal with that,” he said.
“We’ve got an abundance of water, but people in the south, especially the Northern Territory, are struggling to get it.”
“I’m not going to take anything away from the Government, but I think it is time for them to put the issue of water and climate change aside and focus on the other priorities of their day.”
The ABC’s John Ridsdale in Wellington reported that Arderns plan to close the two Woolworth’s stores in New Zealand is “expected to cost $10m”.
Woolworths is the country most affected by climate change and is facing pressure from environmental groups to cut carbon emissions.