Media release

Ministry for the Environment announces action plan for healthy waterways

Thursday 5 September 2019

The Ministry for the Environment today announced a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) and new National Environmental Standards (NES) and regulations aimed at improving the health of New Zealand waterways. These policies are open for consultation until 17 October.

Otago Regional Council (ORC) Chair Stephen Woodhead said the proposals outlined a welcome plan of environmental reform.

“There’s a lot in these proposals that raises the bar in terms of water quality. They are asking us all to do more and to move faster, and we welcome the clarity the package provides.

“ORC have seen this direction coming for some time, in the signalling from central government, and we have already made efforts that work towards aligning with it.”

The new NPS looks to strengthen the existing NPS’s vision for Te Mana o te Wai—the integrated and holistic health and wellbeing of New Zealand waterbodies. Our Freshwater Management Units, recently adopted by Council, were prepared with this approach—from mountains to sea—and are consistent with the policy announced today.

“This policy bundle clearly prioritises healthy waterways as the key outcome. The government is providing firm direction in this proposal that expects we not only protect, but also restore and enhance our waterways,” said Mr Woodhead.

“The shared responsibilities of all New Zealanders to achieve these outcomes, as reflected in proposed policy for both urban and rural environments, is also consistent with ORC’s view that water quality is everyone’s responsibility.”

“Overall these policies will give ORC further tools to protect and restore Otago waterways. That said, there will be challenges for us and for our communities in meeting the government’s expectations.”

“We’ll need to go through these proposals in detail now to understand how they may affect our water work, and we’ll be communicating their implications with our communities when we have greater clarity.”

The Ministry for the Environment is taking a roadshow around the country to talk about their proposals, stopping at Dunedin on Monday September 9th, and Queenstown on Friday September 14th.

More information on the events can be found online.