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Add your voice to the region’s water discussion

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 10:00 a.m.

Do you have an interest in how water is used, allocated and valued? Do you want to get involved with adding your voice to the discussion?

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is setting up community groups in water management areas in Rangitāiki, Kaituna/Maketū and Pongakawa/Waitahanui catchments to help it make some important decisions about water in these areas.

The groups will help identify local community values for freshwater, set local limits for water quality and quantity, and develop solutions for managing water in their catchment.

Regional Council Chair Doug Leeder said the groups are part of the work being carried out by the Regional Council to implement the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

“The work includes setting allocation limits, managing over-allocation and ensuring water is used efficiently,” Mr Leeder said.

“As part of this, we’re setting up Community Groups which represent a wide range of interests in fresh water, as well as different stakeholder views. We have some key challenges in managing freshwater quality and quantity, including how land is used and the effect of climate change on our region. We need the community’s help to plan for a sustainable and successful future.”

Mr Leeder said we’re looking for people who have a close relationship with and understand the water sources in their area, can work well in a team and consider issues from multiple view-points.

“If you think you’d be interested in being part of the groups, visit our website to read more about them and what we’re hoping to achieve. Expressions of interest close on 3 August 2015. It’s likely to be a two-year commitment initially, so we’re looking for people who can be involved for the long term.”

Mr Leeder said at the moment they’re only looking for people from the Rangitāiki, Kaituna/Maketū and Watahanui/Pongakawa Catchments, but similar work will roll out in other Bay of Plenty catchments from 2017/2018.

“This programme of work will take time and we’ll be extending it throughout the region as we progress it,” he said. “So if you’re interested but not from one of the first areas to be set up, keep an eye out in your community, and on our website for updates.”

Key information

Freshwater Futures

Through the National Policy Statement for Freshwater (NPS), central government has directed Bay of Plenty Regional Council to set limits and rules that will ensure:

  • Our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and the estuaries they flow into are kept healthy for people to enjoy
  • Water allocation decisions are well informed, sustainable, efficient and based on agreed limits
  • Te Mana o te Wai (the unique relationship iwi have with freshwater) is recognised and protected
  • Native plants and animals thrive in healthy freshwater habitats.

Water management areas

Nine Water Management Areas have been established to give us practical geographic areas for managing freshwater in the Bay of Plenty. They're based on a range of factors, including physical surface catchments, iwi cultural boundaries, Treaty settlement, major project areas and where people live.

Key challenges for managing water in the Bay of Plenty

  • Quantity: There is only so much water available for use, but the demand for it is increasing.
  • Quality: The region's freshwater quality is good compared to national standards. However, freshwater resources are under pressure with water quality declining and the mauri of water degraded in parts of the region.
  • Land use: How we're using the land can affect water quality and quantity.
  • Climate change: Changes in our climate could affect land use, timing, amount and intensity of rainfall. Sea level rise may impact on aquifers and streams. There may be changes in both demand and availability of water.