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Council's freshwater work

Bay of Plenty Regional Council invests more than $24 million each year on work with local people to improve and protect the water in local rivers, lakes and streams.

That delivers work on the ground with land, business and infrastructure owners alongside iwi and the wider community to:

  • upskill people so they can improve business practices and reduce pollution risk
  • use science to detect environmental changes and solve complex problems
  • sustainably manage people’s use of land and water through plans, rules and resource consent compliance
  • maintain stop banks and flood protection schemes to protect towns and rural land from river overflows

Integrated catchment management

What happens on land affects our waterways. So we provide funding, advice and regional co-ordination to deliver work on the ground work that improves the way that  land, water and wildlife is cared for in local catchments. 

Together with landowners we’ve made great progress on fencing Bay of Plenty waterways in recent years, to protect them from stock damage and defecation. Region-wide we’ve achieved 75 percent protection along stream margins so far, and even more in our most vulnerable catchments. Farm animals are now excluded from:

  • 89.5 percent of waterways around Tauranga Harbour
  • 78 percent of Rangitaiki catchment waterways
  • 100 percent of waterways in eight Rotorua lakes catchments. The remaining four Rotorua catchments (around Lakes Ōkataina, Rotorua, Rotomahana and Tarawera) are more than 85 percent protected.

Fencing and planting waterways is one of many tools we’re using in our integrated approach to improving water quality throughout the region including in the Tauranga Harbour, Rotorua Lakes, Kaituna River and Maketū Estuary, Rangitāiki and Ōhiwa Harbour catchments.

We also work with people to:

  • restore wetlands, remove fish barriers and enhance wildlife habitat
  • control erosion and trap sediment run-off
  • develop new tools for reducing bacteria and nutrient run-off

Science, monitoring and research

Regional Council leads and supports a range of scientific monitoring and research work to improve understanding about freshwater sources, use, availability, quality and how these can best be sustainably managed. See the latest water quality monitoring results at and recent freshwater science reports here>>

Our scientists use all sorts of different indicators to assess and manage water quality. They include sampling for bacteria (E.coli) and blue-green algae, as well as checking water temperature and nutrient levels (which can affect blue-green algae growth), clarity, and doing counts of macro-invertebrates (the insects and other creepy crawlies that live in the water like snails, shrimps and worms).