Central government’s new 'Action for Healthy Waterways' proposals are expected to help expand and advance Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s current freshwater improvement efforts says Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Fiona McTavish.
“From action on the ground, to science, planning and policy work, Regional Council invests more than $30 million each year in efforts to improve water quality and manage water use in the region.
“Improving our waterways needs to be an ongoing focus and priority for everyone. The proposed reforms could give us the tools we need to do a better job of achieving the outcomes our communities want.
“We’re already making real progress through current work that includes riparian improvement partnerships, Lake Rotorua nutrient management rules and incentives, wetland restoration projects, environmental monitoring network expansion and freshwater plan change development. It will take many years to see the full benefits of those efforts.
“It’s increasingly complex work, and it’s going to take even more investment and change from all of us to ensure healthier waterways for generations to come.
“We all want clean fresh water to drink, swim in and gather kai from; so we welcome central government’s intent to clarify requirements and simplify planning processes for freshwater management,” Ms McTavish said.
As one of the guardians of the region’s natural assets, Regional Council has a long history of helping landowners and businesses to take better care of waterways, with more than 2000 property-level environmental plans already delivered to reduce land run-off and protect waterways throughout the region.
Regional Council also conducts more than 3000 compliance checks on consented activities, such as dairy sheds, industrial sites, wastewater and community storm water systems each year, to reduce the risk of waterway pollution.
“We’ve recently adapted our work with rural landowners to better align with swimmability targets and earlier freshwater policy directives released by central government.
“We’ve established a science-led approach to supporting voluntary landowner action in the 12 focus catchments that are at the highest risk of degradation in our region. That way we can make sure that our most vulnerable waterways are getting the attention they need, as quickly as possible,” Ms McTavish said.
Central government launched its package of freshwater reform proposals today. Ms McTavish said that Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff and councillors will now review those proposals and consider the potential impact of the reforms on the wider community and local economies, as well as on the existing capacity of councils, before giving feedback on them.
“We’ll be working through the full implications and details of the proposal over the coming weeks. We’ll adapt our policies and work programmes as needed once the new central government requirements are finalised.
“In the meantime, we remain committed to working in partnership with iwi, hapū, landowners, other councils, industry and the wider community to deliver an environment that people can be proud to leave to their mokopuna.
“No one agency, organisation or iwi can do this alone and just as many of the challenges we face today have been decades in the making, the benefits of the decisions we make now will become evident in the future.
“The effects of the new central government proposals will be wide-ranging, so we encourage local people to take a look and have their say as well,” Ms McTavish said.
Further information about Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s water management work is available at www.boprc.govt.nz/freshwater