Regional Water and Soil Plan changes
The council is currently reviewing rules in the RWSP pertaining to discharges and land disturbance. This review will lead to ‘proposed plan change 2'. This will incorporate rules for stock exclusion from water bodies of significance, including selected rivers and lakes. The council was intending to notify ‘proposed plan change 2' in early 2008 for submissions.
As a region we need to improve the management of stormwater and increase the amount of stormwater monitoring. Integrated management of stormwater has not been successfully achieved across the region. A key focus of stormwater management is for the Regional Council to issue catchment resource consents (i.e. for the stormwater discharge out of a catchment) and for District Councils to issue resource consents for the management of stormwater within that catchment (i.e. for the collection, storage and treatment of stormwater through subdivision and development consents). This approach has not yet been fully implemented.
The Regional and District councils are increasing the incorporation of low impact design and best management practices such as TP10 (Technical Publication for Stormwater Management Design) as part of subdivision and development consents.
There is a need for more stormwater monitoring by both Regional and District Councils, to identify and prioritise areas that need improvement and to investigate the effects of land use changing from agricultural to lifestyle and development of subdivisions. However, as stormwater sampling needs to be carried out in a first flush event it is very dependent on weather conditions and is resource intensive. For more information on stormwater monitoring, check out case study 1.
The NRC will continue to analyse state and trends data collected through our freshwater state of the environment monitoring and review programmes as needed. From this analysis continue to identify issues or catchments requiring further investigation such as sites with ongoing poor water quality or sites detected to have negative trends.
Monitoring programmes will be reviewed in light of the findings in this report and national and international trends, as well as developments in monitoring techniques and technology. Some significant gaps in current monitoring programmes include:
· Using more advanced sampling techniques to look at temporal changes in water quality due to diurnal patterns and weather conditions i.e. using datasondes and automatic samplers to detect the peak in suspended solids during heavy rain.
· Sampling for agrichemicals (pesticides and herbicide) and other potential pollutants. Currently no routine monitoring for agrichemicals in surface water is carried out. A risk assessment in 2007 found that there is a high but localised risk of surface water being contaminated with some agrichemicals in some areas of Northland.
· Using faecal discriminant source tracking to identify source of faecal contamination such as faecal sterol analysis, fluorescent whitening agents (ingredient of laundry detergents) and PCR markers (genetic analysis).
· Fish monitoring. There is limited knowledge of the extent of both native and pest fish in Northland. There is nationwide concern that eel populations may be being over fished. We are the only region with surviving populations of the two native fish species: Dune lake galaxiids and Northland mudfish. The council needs to work with other relevant organisations in Northland to collect and record more baseline data on the extent of both native and pest fish.
· Monitoring of ecosystem function, which has recently been adopted by other councils throughout NZ.
· Increasing water quality awareness and sampling by groups outside of the council including iwi groups, landowners and environmental car groups using tools such as the SHMAK kit and ‘A Cultural Health Index for Streams and Waterways' (MFE 2003).
· Biological monitoring and recording. The council will continue with and enhance as required its biological monitoring, including macroinvertebrates, aquatic vegetation, fish, periphyton/algae and habitat assessments in Northland's freshwaters, including both lakes and rivers. Biological monitoring collects valuable information that can be used for assessing the state of biodiversity, detecting biosecurity risks and as an indicator for water quality and ecosystem health.