'It just doesn't seem like NZ' - Cantabrians demand urgent action on water quality

Canterbury land, water and health experts have come together to call for greater action on the region's worsening water quality.

It comes after policy announcements from government parties this week, which critics say don't hold the answers.

"Canterbury has got these really high levels of water-borne illnesses and the nitrate levels are going up," concerned local resident Mike Glover told 1 NEWS.

For years the nitrogen levels in much of Canterbury's water have posed a health risk to pregnant mothers and new-borns.

"It's got to the point where they're handing out flyers to doctors to warn them about pregnant women with nitrate in their well. It just doesn't seem like New Zealand," Mr Glover said.

This week the Labour Party announced irrigation schemes would be among those paying royalties for water if it becomes the government.

Local farmers say the move will be devastating.

"The productivity of this farm has lifted significantly since we put water on here. It (Labour's policy) would be make or break for this business," said farmer David Clarke.

National's plan to sink $44 million into cleaning up toxic waterways has also been criticised, with Environment Canterbury saying it falls short by hundreds of millions of dollars in the Selwyn District alone.

Experts believe it will take many years, possibly even decades, to turn around Canterbury's water issues.

Fed up residents and health experts say party policy announcements don't stack up. Source: 1 NEWS