Fresh water matters to all New Zealanders. It's vital we look after it, using it in ways that provide the best environmental, economic, social and cultural outcomes. Find out about freshwater reform and other programmes improving freshwater management.
We're involved in the Government's Essential Freshwater Work Programme. The programme's 3 main objectives to achieve by 2020 are to:
- stop further degradation and loss
- reverse past damage
- address water allocation issues.
For more information about, read the Essential Freshwater: Healthy Water, Fairly Allocated document.
Working with other agencies
To achieve the Programme's objectives, Government agencies are working to together as a task force. We're working with:
- Ministry for the Environment
- Te Puni Kōkiri
- Crown/Māori Relations Unit
- Department of Internal Affairs
- Department of Conservation
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
We're also working with local government.
2009 fresh water reform
The Government launched the joint Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Ministry for the Environment (MfE) programme of fresh water reform in June 2009. The programme has ended, and the Government is now working on fresh water reform through the Essential Freshwater Reform Programme.
2009 – Introduced nationwide standards for water metering
2011 – Developed National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management
2014 – Placed the National Objectives Framework in the Freshwater NPS, introducing bottom lines for fresh water quality
2016 – Consulted on next phase of proposed reforms
2017 – Consultation on Clean Water 2017
2018 – The Essential Freshwater Work Programme was established.
The Clean Water package was a set of proposals that were announced on 23 February 2017. They were a part of the reform programme. The package included:
- a target that 90% per centof our rivers and lakes are swimmable by 2040
- greater information on our water quality for swimming
- proposals for changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014
- details of proposals to exclude stock from waterways.
It also launched the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund.
Submissions for the Clean Water package closed on 25 May 2017.
The Land and Water Forum was established in 2009 to advise the Government on fresh water reform. Its members represent over 65 stakeholder organisations.
In November 2015, the forum released the Fourth Report of the Land and Water Forum on how to maximise the economic benefits of fresh water while meeting water quality and quantity limits (set in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014). Following this final report, the Forum has decided to put itself into abeyance.
The forum's report:
- recommended excluding livestock from waterways on plains and lowland hills
- addressed a number of urban issues
- suggested tools and approaches to help the Crown explore the rights and interests of iwi.
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM) provided direction about how local authorities should carry out their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991 for managing fresh water resources.
The NPS-FM directs regional councils to set:
- objectives for the future state of their water bodies (in consultation with their communities)
- limits to meet these objectives.
Impact on farmers and growers
Everyone needs to play their part in protecting our fresh water and its resources. For many farmers and growers, this will mean a change in practice to manage within limits. To learn more about the specific rules and timeframes in your region, contact your regional council.
Industry bodies also have information and guidance on their websites:
Reports to help decision-making
Three reports published in February 2017 will help central government, local government, and communities with fresh water management.
The reports, commissioned by MPI and the Ministry for the Environment, provided:
- cost-benefit analysis of different management approaches
- the best solutions depending on catchment goals
- evaluation of different approaches to fresh water management.
The reports helped provide the evidence behind the proposals in the Clean Water package.
A number of technical publications supporting the reports are also available.
- Managing sediment and E. coli in Whangarei Harbour – summary report [PDF, 3.6 MB]
- Managing sediment and E. coli in Whangarei Harbour – technical report [PDF, 3.7 MB]
- National stock exclusion study [PDF, 6 MB]
- Urban development and the NPS-FM: Lucas Creek catchment [PDF, 1.9 MB]
- Whangarei Harbour sediment and E. coli study: catchment economic modelling – Landcare Research [PDF, 6.9 MB]
- Temporal disaggregation of sediment loads in the Whangarei Harbour Catchment and response to soil conservation – Landcare Research [PDF, 3.3 MB]
- Northland sediment study: Whangarei Harbour sediment budget – NIWA [PDF, 2.3 MB]
- Northland sediment study: E. coli modelling – NIWA [PDF, 2.6 MB]
- Northland sediment study: Evaluation of freshwater sediment attributes – NIWA [PDF, 800 KB]
- MPI stock exclusion costs report – AgriBusiness Group [PDF, 1.1 MB]
- Modelling the effect of stock exclusion on E. coli in rivers and streams: national application – NIWA [PDF, 4.1 MB]
- Effectiveness of stream fencing to reduce E. coli inputs to streams from pastoral land use – AgResearch [PDF, 873 KB]
- Non-market valuation of improvements in freshwater quality for New Zealand residents, from changes in stock exclusion policy – Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit [PDF, 1.5 MB]
MPI has supported other programmes that help improve fresh water management through better:
- dairy farming
- nutrient management
- catchment monitoring
Who to contact
If you have questions about fresh water or related programmes, email firstname.lastname@example.org
We're making improvements to our feedback form and it's temporarily unavailable.
For urgent problems, call 0800 00 83 33 (NZ only)