Improving the health of our waterbodies in Northland is very much a marathon, not a sprint, and the journey is well underway. Improving the resilience and reliability of our water supplies without affecting the health and well-being of water bodies is also a work in progress.
Our key actions are summarised below:
Policy and rules
- Implement the government’s direction on water quality in ‘Essential Freshwater’ including: understanding and applying Te Mana o te Wai and development of a vision, freshwater objectives and targets / limits for water quality through a change to the regional plan. For more detail see Freshwater management: changes to the regional plan and policy statement. We have established two advisory groups to help with this – a Tangata Whenua Water Advisory Group and Primary Sector Liaison Group. We have proposed resourcing Māori to assist in this work in our 2021-2031 Long Term Plan.
- Refine our current water quantity limits (minimum flows and allocation limits set in the Proposed Regional Plan) with a focus on areas with high allocation and aquifers at risk from saltwater intrusion.
- Refine our compliance monitoring programme to ensure regional and national rules and consent conditions are met. For detail on our current programme see our Compliance Monitoring information.
Monitoring and reporting
- Define freshwater management units as a basis for managing water quality - Northland's Water Quality Freshwater Management Units 2021 (PDF, 2.1MB)
- Refine our indicative water allocation tool (this shows the level of water allocation across the region).
- Revise the freshwater monitoring network to ensure it adequately covers the region’s waterbodies and meets accounting, monitoring and reporting required under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater 2020.
- Develop a wetland inventory, monitoring programme and map wetlands to better understand their state/condition and prevent further loss.
- Work with Māori to incorporate matauranga Māori into environmental monitoring.
- Increase the use of remote telemetry / sensing and continuous sampling in monitoring networks and consents for large water takes.
- Develop a soil moisture deficit monitoring system to complement the drought warning system.
- Continue to monitor farm dairy effluent, wastewater network and industrial discharges and take enforcement where necessary.
Science and research
- Develop a regional ‘water balance model’ to identify areas where water is available and where availability is constrained and/or there is a risk of significant adverse effects as a result of water takes.
- Develop predictive water quality models to assess current river water quality state where we don’t have monitoring sites and test the effectiveness of options to achieve objectives for water.
- Support investigations into water storage options in the region.
- Improve our understanding of climate change risks and monitoring climate change (such as saline intrusion into groundwater).
Action on the ground
- Develop targeted action plans to reduce sediment loads from highly erodible land and streambank erosion and reduce E.coli concentrations, with a particular focus on improving water quality for public drinking water supplies, mahinga kai gathering areas and popular bathing sites and in estuaries/harbours.
- Refocus the Environment Fund to complement action plans and support work undertaken by targeted catchment groups
- Assist people to improve the resilience of their water supply during extended dry periods, particularly those remote communities not connected to public water supply.
- Deliver on the Kaipara Moana Remediation programme (a joint $300m partnership between Māori, council and central government to improve the state of the Kaipara Harbour, with a particular focus on reducing sediment loads to fresh and coastal waters).
- Continue to implement the Dune Lakes Strategy (and associated reporting) and management of freshwater pests in these lakes to improve their ecological condition.
- Support landowners to develop of Freshwater Farm Plans by providing information to ensure they address local freshwater issues.
- Continue to develop partnerships with Māori, industry sectors and other agencies to deliver improvements in freshwater.
- Continue to expand our Flyger Road poplar and willow nursery so it can supply more trees for erosion control.