National water quality standards will be introduced for New
Zealand's lakes and rivers, the Government has announced
The new policy means, for the first time, rivers and lakes
will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the
water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.
They will be introduced among an updated National Policy
Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS).
The new standards followed consultation with more than 60
freshwater scientists from public, private and academic
sectors across the country, which had come up with numeric
Other measures under the NPS require regional councils to
order efficient use of fresh water by end users, use water
quality measures to set freshwater objectives, and "maintain
or improve the overall quality of fresh water".
Announcing the policy this morning, Environment Minister Amy
Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy described
the changes as a "critical milestone" to improve water
"Ensuring an ongoing and reliable supply of healthy water is
one of the most important environmental and economic issues
facing New Zealand today," Ms Adams said.
Mr Guy said the changes balanced economic growth with
"We all want sustainable and profitable primary industries.
That will mean changes to some of our farming practices, but
I know farmers are up for the challenge."
To help councils with the implementation of the new policy
statement, Ms Adams was considering applications from
regional councils for $1.1m of funding for activities that
support regional planning and community participation in
freshwater management, with decisions to be announced
Green Party water spokeswoman Eugenie Sage claimed the
Government had "pulled the plug" on cleaning up dirty rivers
to the point they were safe to swim in.
"Around 90 percent of public submissions called for this. Yet
the Government's weak bottom lines have ignored public views
and will allow our rivers to become more polluted."
Irrigation New Zealand welcomed the announcement, saying that
having national bottom lines while allowing for regional and
local circumstances would prevent "unrealistic conditions"
being set on water quality for irrigation schemes.
"Having everyone work off the same page will mean that
resource consent processes will be less onerous and less time
and money will be wasted reaching acceptable outcomes," the
lobby group's chief executive, Andrew Curtis, said.
National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management: What
it requires of our regional councils.
*Safeguard fresh water's life supporting capacity, ecosystem
processes, and indigenous species including their associated
*Manage freshwater bodies so people's health is safeguarded
when wading or boating (a minimum requirement)
*Maintain or improve the overall quality of fresh water
within a region and protect the significant values of
wetlands and outstanding freshwater bodies
*Require more efficient use of fresh water by end users,
avoid the over allocation of water takes and inputs of
contaminants, and to phase out existing over allocation.
*Implement the national objectives framework by setting
freshwater objectives according to a "specified process" and
meeting community and tangata whenua values which include the
compulsory values of ecosystem health and human health for
*Use a specified set of water quality measures to set the
freshwater objectives (an objective can only be set below
national bottom lines in specified circumstances)
*Set limits which allow freshwater objectives to be met and
put in place measures to better account for water takes and
sources of contaminants, and measure achievement towards
*Take a more integrated approach to managing fresh water and
*Fully implement the National Policy Statement by 2025.
- Jamie Morton of the New Zealand Herald