Fresh water and the cleaning up of New Zealand’s streams, rivers and lakes was a major issue during the last election campaign. This is because of the degradation and loss of our ecosystems - lakes, rivers or wetlands. These ecosystems require fresh water to survive.
The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management 2014 (amended 2017) provides direction to local government about the management of fresh water. Under the NPS, regional councils set objectives for the state of fresh water bodies in their regions, and set limits to resource use to meet these objectives. These objectives are set in consultation with the community.
The Government has recently announced that a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management will be developed alongside a National Environment Standard.
This NPS and environment standard will reflect the three objectives the Government has in regards to freshwater. These objectives are: Stop further degradation and loss; Reverse past damage; and Address water allocation issues.
To fulfil these objectives, and changes in legislation, regulation and policy, a balance needs to be found between health, sustainability and affordability. This balance also needs to consider the relationships between the Crown and Māori, central and local government, and local government and communities.
Three working groups have therefore been established: one focusing on Māori perspectives and interests; a Freshwater Leaders Group; and a Science and Technical Advisory Group. These working groups will consider the development of new standards in regards to freshwater, and address water allocation issues.