The Northland Regional Council has responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA 1991) to control water use, and to monitor the level and flow of water bodies. Successful management of the water resources will stem directly from informed resource management decisions. This can only be achieved from accurate knowledge of the environment itself, including climate, water quantity, present water use and potential demand for water in Northland. The Council may also control the use of land for the purpose of maintaining sufficient water flows for human uses and aquatic life.
Natural water quantities are directly related to rainfall, soils, vegetation and groundwater. Some rain seeps into the ground and becomes part of the groundwater system, while the rest flows over the land to our streams and rivers that discharge into the coastal environment.
The Waipoua River.
The Regional Policy Statement for Northland (NRC 2002a) contains a range of objectives relating to the quantity of Northland's surface water resources. These objectives seek to maintain flows, conserve water resources, and protect the natural environment from adverse effects.
The Regional Policy Statement (RPS) objectives are:
· The maintenance of the flows and levels in significant streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands to preserve their natural character and to protect high ecological, cultural or scenic values.
· The maintenance of water flows and levels in natural water bodies that are sufficient to preserve their life-supporting capacity, natural character, intrinsic values and associated or dependent values.
· The efficient use and conservation of water resources.
· To protect property and other values from adverse effects due to the diversion of water from its natural drainage pattern.
The following is the anticipated environmental results after the implementation of the water quantity policies in the RPS:
· Protection of important freshwater habitats, particularly natural wetlands from reductions in surface water and ground water levels.
· Preservation of the natural character, intrinsic, ecosystem and amenity values of natural water bodies to the extent that these depend on water levels and flows.
· Protection of the values of water bodies held by tangata whenua.
· Sustainable and efficient use of the water resources of Northland
· Increased awareness of water conservation and the greater implementation of water conservation practises.
· Minimisation of actual and potential damage to property from damming, diversion and discharge of run off.