Two years ago, the Government released their vision for improving our degraded rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. A key part of this vision is the principle of Te Mana o te Wai which prioritises the health and well-being of waterbodies and freshwater ecosystems over the use of freshwater.
It’s required us to work on new rules and other actions we can take for activities that impact freshwater to meet the government’s expectations. We’re doing a lot of background work to understand what improvements we need to our freshwater. While we have yet to consider what the new rules and actions might be, the reality is that the changes required are big, they’re complex and they need to happen.
We’ll share more detail with you on what the changes might look like when we release a new freshwater draft plan change for public consultation around this time next year. We’ll also be sharing a lot more detail about the process, the background work and the draft plan itself very shortly so rest assured, you’ll have ample opportunity to tell us what you think.
We have set up two separate advisory groups to help guide the process and development of the draft plan. One is a group of tangata whenua freshwater technical experts, and the other the Primary Sector.
What we do know right now is that the Government has said we must improve our freshwater in areas which are below a certain level (called a “bottom line”) and there are many places in Northland where our freshwater is not meeting that bottom line such as for E. coli, sediment, and freshwater insects. We know this through the monitoring we do.
We all share the same desire to see future generations be able to enjoy clean water and to also be able to enjoy the natural environments that healthy water supports. The challenge in front of us is how do we get there?
Improving our freshwater is going to be a long game and while we can’t expect to achieve all the things we need to overnight; we think it will require significant change at scale across Northland. We’ll keep talking with you about the rate of that change and the timeframes needed for realising it.
To find out more, search for Essential Freshwater on our website. You can also sign up for notifications so when changes to relevant content are made, you’ll be aware of it.