Have your say on water

14 Oct 2010

Members will have their chance in the coming weeks to make their voices heard to ensure the government adopts the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum’s report issued last month.

Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell was a trustee of the forum and a member of its small group which had been meeting regularly since last year to pull together
recommendations on finding a more collaborative model for water management.

The forum comprised groups who often find themselves on opposite sides of water allocation arguments, from farmers and industrial users on one hand to conservation and water recreation organisations on the other. Despite past differences, the forum was able to build trust among the parties and reach a consensus on the bulk of its plan.

The report released last month recommended the introduction of a national policy statement on water, limits and standards for water quality, a national Land and Water Commission, a restoration fund to restore water quality and a strong regulatory framework to accompany voluntary management actions.

The report offered options on the best way to fund the restoration fund, with Forest & Bird and other environmental groups favouring charging commercial users for their water use.

Kevin says members should try to get to any of 15 meetings due to be held around the country in October-November and February-March to gather feedback on the report. The forum will later meet again briefly to consider the feedback and pass it on to the government.

“We’re really keen that people do get along to the meetings, it would be good for there to be support for the general principles in the report. These include the need for limits and standards and timelines to achieve them, and more national direction to ensure consistency around the country,” he says.

A more collaborative model for water management would encourage more cooperation between parties ahead of planning hearings and major applications for water use resource consents.

“At Forest & Bird, we know how time-intensive, how expensive it is to fight consents, and we know how it works much better when the parties get engaged early. Everybody benefits and you end up with much less litigation and hassle, and that’s good for everybody.”

Forest & Bird wants the government to adopt the forum’s report but Kevin said putting all the elements in place would be lengthy process.

“Some of the things we are recommending involve serious structural change and need to be done carefully and properly. They require legislative changes and nobody expects them for the next year or two.”

If accepted by the government, implementation of some of the recommendations could get underway before next year’s election, including the national policy statement on water and establishing national environmental standards for water quality.

Eight meetings to gather public feedback will be held in October and November and another seven are planned for February and March next year. The meetings will take place in the evening from 6pm until 9.30pm except for Auckland and Wellington where they will be held during the day.

The meetings to be held this year are:
Wednesday 9th February 2011Canterbury
Copthorne Hotel Commodore, 449 Memorial Avenue, Christchurch
Thursday 10th February 2011
South Canterbury, Waitaki
The Function Centre, The Landing Service Building, 2 George Street, Timaru
Monday 14th February 2011
West Coast
Beachfront Hotel Hokitika, 111 Revell Street, Hokitika
Thursday 17th February 2011
Kingsgate Hotel, 9 Riverside Drive, Whangarei
Tuesday 22nd February 2011
Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Conference Room,
30 The Octagon, Dunedin
Wednesday 23rd February 2011
Ascot Park Hotel, Corner Tay Street and Racecourse Road, Invercargill
Tuesday 1st March 2011
Hawke’s Bay
Hawke’s Bay Opera House, 101 Hastings Street South, Hastings
Wednesday 2nd March 2011
East Cape
Gisborne District Council, Rose Room, 15 Fitzherbert Street, Gisborne
Thursday 3rd March 2011
Heartland Hotel Marlborough, Corner Alfred and Henry Streets, Blenhei