Freshwater reform 2013 and beyond

Forest & Bird conditionally endorses the Land & Water Forum’s 4th Report  27 November 2015 (PDF file)

Summary of key points

While much of the proposed Freshwater Reform package is based on, and generally consistent with, the work and recommendations of the Land and Water Forum (LWF) there are several aspects of the proposed reforms that differ significantly from the direction of the forum’s consensus. These differences could undermine the potential outcomes of the reform

Forest & Bird recommended changes

Water Conservation Orders

•    withdraw the proposal to refer Water Conservation Order applications to regional councils, or put them on hold; or
•    apply the same process to any water resource consent applications that would potentially operate as a bar to a Water Conservation Order being imposed (which might be all but very minor water use applications).

Collaborative planning
•    modify the proposals so that they reflect the collaborative planning processes recommended by the LWF
•    withdraw the RMA2 reform proposal that gives the Minister the power to direct changes to plan provisions

National Objectives Framework
•    do not change sections 6 and 7 of the RMA

Managing within limits for water quantity and quality
•    adopt the recommendations of the LWF for the management of water bodies that are approaching, or are over, their water quality limits.

National Policy Statement for Freshwater 

•    The Government has proposed significant changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. These changes will implement the National Objectives Framework, which is a new management framework that will apply to all freshwater in New Zealand. It’s great that progress is being made, and Forest & Bird generally supports the new Framework. Some aspects though are concerning, and they threaten to undermine the chance for real change for freshwater in NZ. We think it needs to be made clear that freshwater quality should be maintained or improved in all water bodies in a region, not just some. Urgent work also needs to be done to populate the Framework with water quality standards that can be applied nationwide – without the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the Framework, it will be very difficult to achieve real progress. We’re also concerned that there are too many exceptions to the bottom lines set in the Framework, which will chip away at its worth

>> Proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management