Pollution will 'kill your pets' - Fish and Game

A new poll has revealed one of the top two issues concerning New Zealanders is river and lake pollution.

Seventy-five percent of Kiwis surveyed in a new Colmar Brunton poll were extremely or very concerned - only five percent disagreed. Pollution came second only to the cost of living.

Fish and Game chief executive Martin Taylor says increasing river and lake pollution could turn deadly.

"We know that there are certain areas that are going to become so toxic that you won't be able to go there with your family and it'll kill your pets. If we don't make changes now, we will never turn that around."

Mr Taylor says dairy companies such as Fonterra are spending millions on sustainability ads, but they are having little impact on the public.

"Three-quarters of Kiwis are still saying water pollution is a big problem, and you guys have to clean it out. You have to see these stats in that context. In that context, they are incredible."

Fonterra rejected Fish and Game's accusations, a spokeswoman saying farmers are "working extremely hard to improve the country's rivers".

"That includes investing around a billion dollars to fence 98 percent of significant waterways, plant riverbanks, build wetlands and install effluent management systems that help prevent nitrogen leaching," Cilla Duncan told NZME on Sunday.

"We hope Fish and Game can work collaboratively with us to make clean rivers, lakes and streams a reality for all Kiwis."

Mr Taylor says the survey's findings give the Government the political license to step in, as the dairy industry can't be trusted to regulate itself.

"I think if we let the industry keep doing what they're doing, we'll never get back to our clean-green image - which is essentially gone."

Colmar poll
The poll's results. Photo credit: Colmar Brunton/Fish and Game

The Colmar Brunton poll was commissioned by Fish and Game, and surveyed 1000 New Zealanders in late November.

In addition to the cost of living (77 percent) and pollution (75 percent), Kiwis are worried about the health system (74), child poverty (68), housing (65), education (63) and climate change (61).