02 November 2018

National water reforms and the importance of maintaining momentum on local waterway improvements were the focus of discussion by Bay of Plenty Regional Councillors at their Regional Direction and Delivery Committee meeting this week. 

The new ‘Essential Freshwater’ central government work programme  was announced by Minister for the Environment David Parker on 8 October. Regional Councillor and Direction and Delivery Committee Chair Paula Thompson said that the new national objectives align well with local priorities.

“Caring for waterways and providing for the sustainable use of water is an incredibly complex task. Regional Council has been investing heavily in science, policy development, and action on the ground for many years now in an effort to clean-up waterways and improve land and water management practices.

“Our current work already aligns well with the Government objectives of stopping further degradation, reversing past damage and addressing water allocation levels. We look forward to being able to use new nationally consistent frameworks, tools and more  streamlined processes as they become available, to better serve the water management needs and aspirations of our local communities,” Councillor Thompson said.

Councillor Thompson noted that the full implications of Minister Parker’s work programme will become clearer as public consultation on specific National Policy Statement, Environmental Standard and Resource Management Act changes commences in 2019.

In the meantime, Councillors discussed the need for Bay of Plenty Regional Council to continue with its current water management and plan change development work as planned, while maintaining flexibility to adapt to central government reforms and direction as it rolls out.

“It can take many years to see water quality  improvements from the work we do today. Bay of Plenty is already heading in the right direction through efforts including our riparian improvement partnerships, Lake Rotorua nutrient management rules, wetland restoration projects, and environmental monitoring network expansion.

“We can’t afford to lose momentum on that work, so we’ll keep going with that while also participating in the upcoming Government consultation processes on national water reform and preparing for the outcomes of those,” Councillor Thompson said.