Media release

National water quality picture shows more work is needed in urban and rural catchments

Sunday 27 September 2020

As part of World Rivers Day, LAWA (Land, Air Water, Aotearoa) has today released a National Picture Summary of New Zealand’s water quality for 2010-2019. The National Picture shows that our waterways are under pressure in both urban and rural areas.

ORC Chair Andrew Noone said there were some good indicators in Otago’s water quality trends, but they also showed more work was needed to reverse the course of water quality degradation.

“What the National Picture shows is that poor water quality is not just a rural issue. It’s clear from these results that our urban catchments are also in need of attention.

“Good water quality is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s going to take a collective effort—not just from our farmers, but also in our towns and cities—to see improvements across Otago.”

Otago’s water quality is generally very good, with more than two thirds of sites graded as having ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ quality in ORC’s recent state of the environment monitoring, and many Otago waterways are seeing water quality improvements.

“A lot of those improvements owe to the great work being done in our communities and catchment groups. ORC has just announced support for a joined-up approach to coordinating the excellent work of catchment groups in Otago,” Cr Noone said.

“We also fund $250,000 worth of community-led environmental projects across the region every year through our ECO Fund, many of which are focused on water quality.

“However, it’s clear that more robust regulation is needed around urban and rural land use, alongside the good efforts being made on the ground. 

“As well as tighter national legislation introduced through this year’s Essential Freshwater package, ORC is working on a new Land and Water Regional Plan to comprehensively and sustainably manage freshwater in Otago.”

To view LAWA’s river quality data and National Picture Summary 2020, visit: