Implementing the New Start for Fresh Water: Proposed Officials’ Work Programme

 

Office of the Minister
Office of the Minister of Agriculture

Chair
Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee

Proposal

  1. This paper proposes an officials’ work programme to implement part of the Government’s New Start for Fresh Water strategy and timelines for making major decisions on policy reform.

Executive summary

  1. Cabinet has agreed to a new strategic direction for fresh water. Three processes will begin improvements to freshwater management:

    1. a stakeholder-led collaborative process run by the Land and Water Forum (“the Forum”) that will develop shared outcomes, goals and long term strategies for fresh water
    2. engagement between Ministers and the Iwi Leaders Group to advance discussions on resolving high level freshwater issues, including iwi/Māori rights and interests, particularly in freshwater management and allocation initiatives
    3. concurrent scoping of policy options on matters including freshwater allocation, quality and infrastructure (the “officials’ work programme”) [CAB Min (09) 20/12 refers].
  2. This Cabinet paper sets out the Government’s proposed officials’ work programme (and timeframes) to scope freshwater policy options (paragraph 2c) and how this programme will interact and come together with the other processes (paragraphs 2a and 2b).

  3. The proposed officials’ work programme consists of ten priority projects. These have been chosen as they are needed either to ensure the Government can respond to the Forum’s proposals or to tackle pressing issues with the current management system. Agreement is sought for the ten priority projects, which include a mixture of new and partially completed work:

    1. environmental flows and water measuring
    2. water quality limits
    3. proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
    4. allocation of water to maximise value
    5. over-allocation baseline and possible interim interventions
    6. supporting measures
    7. rural water infrastructure
    8. dependable monitoring and reporting
    9. aligning investment and improving uptake of water research
    10. best practice water governance.
  4. The Iwi Leaders Group and their advisors will be involved in the officials’ work programme to ensure that matters of concern to iwi/Māori are identified and considered within each project. Officials will hold targeted discussions with selected stakeholders to ensure the work programme addresses key issues and incorporates existing experience. This will be tightly targeted and there will not be public consultation before July 2010. Care will be taken to ensure that these discussions with targeted stakeholders do not undermine the work of the Forum. Current regional processes will be used to evaluate policy options in relevant projects. Linkages within the officials’ work programme and with other work inside and outside of government will also be carefully managed to ensure consistency and cost-effectiveness.
  5. The officials’ work programme as a whole is working towards two main decision points:
    1. technical amendments and guidance on the current freshwater management framework as identified, with Resource Management Act 1991 (“the RMA”) amendments to be coordinated with the broader second phase of resource management (“Phase Two”) package
    2. a summary and analysis of options available to address the major issues in July/August 2010.
  6. The Forum is to report to Government by 31 July 2010, and as yet it is unclear how detailed or comprehensive their recommendations will be. We will not move to major national level policy decisions before the Forum reports. Specific decisions to advance regional or local water issues, however, may be required before the Forum reports back.  Regardless of the timing and detail of such decisions, we propose to include good faith wider public consultation before decisions are made.

Background

The Government’s ‘New Start for Fresh Water’ strategy

  1. Cabinet has recognised we are reaching or exceeding limits for the amount of water that can be taken or pollution that can be safely assimilated. Water is a finite resource, and we will face economic constraints unless these supply and quality issues and resulting environmental impacts are addressed, and unless better ways are found to maximise the value we get from what is available.

  2. Specific issues to be addressed include:

    1. non-point source discharges, particularly those arising from land use intensification
    2. getting better value from water, including better allocation, and use of storage and other water infrastructure
    3. management, institutional and capability limitations, including gaining and using information and technical and scientific expertise
    4. unresolved rights and interests of Maori
    5. not all New Zealanders understand the complexity of water management issues or the need for change.
  3. In April 2009, Cabinet agreed water would be one of the ten work areas in Phase Two [CAB Min (09) 13/2 refers].  In June 2009, Cabinet [CAB Min (09) 20/12 refers]:
    1. agreed to a new strategic direction for managing fresh water, a New Start for Fresh Water, with the following elements:
      1. ensuring water contributes to economic growth and environmental integrity
      2. providing stronger leadership and national direction, and investigating whether water management decisions are made at the right level
      3. filling science, technical, information and capability gaps
      4. developing management measures to set limits to manage quality and quantity issues, to get the most value from finite water resources, address the impacts of land use intensification on water quality and to improve the management of water demand.
    2. agreed to the use of a collaborative governance process (the Forum) to develop shared outcomes, goals and long term strategies for improved water management and options to achieve these
    3. invited the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture to report to Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee with a proposed officials’ work programme, with proposed timelines for making final decisions on policy directions, which would build a consensus for change, work with the Iwi Leaders Group and develop policy options. 

Land and Water Forum

  1. Terms of reference for the Forum, asking it to recommend reforms for freshwater management in New Zealand through a collaborative governance process, were agreed on August 10 [CBC Min (09) 10/4 refers].  The Forum’s recommendations, to be made by 31 July 2010, will be non-binding on the Government.
  2. The relationship of the proposed officials’ work programme and the Forum will be managed to ensure the two processes complement and do not undermine each other. Officials will provide information to the Forum on the work programme and the Forum will provide regular updates on its progress to Government.

 Iwi and Māori interests

  1. Cabinet also agreed on June 2 [CAB Min (09) 19/7A] that there is a need to make real progress in the unresolved area of Māori rights and interests in water, and that while wider engagement with Māori will also be necessary, the issues would be progressed in the first instance through a group of iwi leaders1 (“Iwi Leaders Group”) and their advisors (“iwi advisors”).
  2. The work with the Iwi Leaders Group and iwi advisors does not constitute Māori engagement and does not attempt to.2 The purpose of engaging with the Iwi Leaders Group and their advisers is to ensure that iwi rights and interests are considered throughout the development of the priority projects and in any new freshwater management policies developed. More comprehensive engagement with iwi and Māori will take place once more detailed policies have been developed and before any final decisions are made. Iwi leaders and their advisers will be involved in developing a process for that consultation. 
  3. In recognition of the importance of effective engagement with the Iwi Leaders Group, communication and information exchange protocols have been agreed between the Iwi Leaders Group and Ministers in order to:
    1. form a strong platform from which iwi/Māori rights and interests in fresh water can be addressed
    2. inform the water work programme
    3. provide confidence to Cabinet that decisions taken on fresh water are informed by the views of the Iwi Leaders Group [CAB Min (09) 27/6 refers].
  4. Under the agreed protocols, Ministers and the Iwi Leaders Group will continue to meet up to three times a year.

Other linkages and processes

  1. As well as the Forum and engagement with the Iwi Leaders Group, a number of other key relationships and linkages need to be well managed to ensure a consistent approach is taken in carrying out the proposed officials’ work programme. In particular, regional processes such as the proposed Canterbury Water Management Strategy and the Waikato River co-management arrangements are significant opportunities both to gain momentum in addressing water management issues, and for testing approaches, particularly around over-allocation and infrastructure (Canterbury). Waikato River processes will be a good source of information on emerging forms of decision-making. Other linkages and the opportunities for synergies are described in Appendix 3.

Proposed officials’ work programme

  1. The overall aims and directions for freshwater policy reform are set out in the earlier strategic paper “New Start for Fresh Water” [CAB Min (09) 20/12 refers]. In particular, we need to ensure water contributes both to New Zealand’s economic growth and its environmental integrity. As agreed in that paper, assumptions to be used in scoping policy options include that water management will be based on the concept of integrated catchment and groundwater management; that limits to be put in place would recognise and protect a range of ecological, social and cultural values; that market based instruments, partnership and collaborative approaches, capability building and communication tools will be considered as well as regulatory options; and that some policy options may fall outside the scope of the RMA.
  2. The concept of limits has driven the way we propose to tackle quality and allocation problems. There are two broad steps in improving water management and outcomes:
    1. setting quality and quantity limits, which requires not only robust frameworks and information, but also often difficult value judgements
    2. developing management tools to enable water managers and users to stay within those limits and maximise value from the capacity available.
  3. Ten projects have been selected as priorities for implementing these steps. These priority projects, set out in paragraphs 27 to 56 below, will review existing work and research, and develop and analyse policy options. They are a mix of existing and new work, and have been selected because they are either needed to ensure we are in a position to respond and act upon the Forum’s recommendations, or to tackle pressing technical issues (such as over-allocation) within the current freshwater management system. The departmental resources available, and what is possible to accomplish in 2009/10, were also considered.
  4. The officials’ work programme is ambitious, but we consider it a priority to make good progress in the next twelve months. It is a concerted increase in focus on fresh water, as is appropriate given its national importance and as a key Government priority. Delivery will require reprioritisation within departments, which is currently being explored.
  5. Priority projects fall into the areas of allocation, quality, infrastructure, science and monitoring and effective decision-making as set out in the table below.
  Allocation Quality
Limits
  1. Environmental flows and water measuring
  1. Water quality limits
  1. National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
Tools
  1. Allocating water to maximise value
  2. Over-allocation baseline and possible interim interventions
  3. Supporting measures
Infrastructure
  1. Rural water infra­structure
Science and monitoring
  1. Dependable monitoring and reporting
  2. Aligning investment in and improving uptake of water research
Effective decision-making
  1. Best practice for water governance

 

  1. Iwi and Māori interests will be identified and addressed as part of each project. Iwi advisors and, where appropriate, the Iwi Leaders Group, will work with officials and Ministers in the development and analysis of policy options. This direct involvement has evolved from the joint work programme,3and the outcomes of that joint work programme will inform the development of policy options.
  2. We also expect officials to have targeted discussions with local government, iwi, specialist and technical expertise and other major stakeholders on minor technical amendments and improving the functioning of the current system. This is important to ensure the officials’ work programme addresses key issues and incorporates existing experience. Discussions will be tightly targeted and there will not be public consultation before July 2010. Care will be taken to ensure that these discussions do not undermine the work of the Forum. Over the past year there have been a number of independent freshwater management reports and reviews, for example the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Best Use Solution, which will also be analysed.
  3. The priority projects do not incorporate all fresh water work by government. A number of other primarily technical projects will run in parallel to these core priority projects, and will draw on available technical resources. Arrangements will be made to ensure all projects are aligned and do not duplicate.
  4. Progress on the officials’ work programme combined with the recommendations of the Forum report back in July 2010, and the ongoing engagement with the Iwi Leaders Group and their advisers, will assist us in identifying preferred policy options for future freshwater management.

Priority projects - detail

Environmental flows and water measuring

  1. The proposed project on environmental flows4 and water measuring will work to ensure quantity limits that reflect ecological bottom lines, wider community values are set and enforced, and ensure we know how much water is being used. This project is closely linked to the allocation project, as the decision on how much water is provided for ecological and other values is effectively an allocation to in-stream values. The project will also consider potential improvements to water conservation order processes.
  2. Shorter term deliverables will include:
    1. a national environmental regulation which requires the measurement and reporting of consented water takes, to be gazetted by the end of 2009
    2. a national environmental standard on ecological flows and water levels, for possible gazetting in mid-late 2010. A decision on whether to proceed with this standard will be informed by a full cost-benefit analysis which is due for completion by the end of 2009. This will confirm whether a standard is the best option to set limits where they do not currently exist, and whether a standard is justified to reduce conflict about technical methods used to set ecological limits specific to a local area
    3. recommendations for improvements to water conservation order processes.
  3. Longer-term work will concentrate on environmental flows beyond those required to protect ecological values. These include tangata whenua, recreation, economic, amenity and natural character values.  Setting environmental flows is not simply a technical process. It is ultimately a local political decision, requiring value judgements and balancing of competing interests (e.g. from industry, fishing, conservationists, recreationists and hydro-generators). Ways to incorporate such values in environmental flows are not yet well developed, and we expect this work will initially take the form of a national guideline. Once tested and refined, the national guideline may be turned into a national environmental standard if appropriate.
  4. A significant component of this work will be to identify options for improving how environmental flow setting decisions recognise and incorporate Māori traditional and contemporary ecological knowledge.
  5. If appropriate environmental flows are not established there is a significant risk of over-allocation.

Water quality limits

  1. Iwi and many other New Zealanders are increasingly concerned with the quality of fresh water. There are economic and health costs as well as environmental, social, and cultural costs associated with further water quality decline. This project will consider ways to ensure quality limits are set and enforced which reflect wider community objectives (including economic).
  2. This project aims to provide options for a robust, consistent framework first to determine how water quality objectives can be defined and agreed; and then translate these objectives into a quantifiable figure to enable management.
  3. Legislative amendments to enable local government to carry out their water quality functions more efficiently may be required. In the longer term, the work may result in environmental regulations. Such work will take more than three years to complete, due to incomplete science.
  4. Just as with environmental flows, setting quality limits is not simply a technical process, as significant value judgements are required. Direct economic consequences are likely from any changes to water quality standards and both the positive and negative impacts need to be considered when setting limits. This reinforces the importance of defining processes and methodology, and requiring that these difficult decisions be made.

Proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

  1. A national policy statement for freshwater management (NPS) will be a key tool for achieving better and more consistent freshwater management. The proposed NPS is currently with an independent Board of Inquiry for consideration. This project will ensure the Government has what is needed to respond when the Board of Inquiry reports back to the Minister for the Environment, which is expected in early 2010.

Allocation of water to maximise value

  1. This project will identify options for ensuring water capacity (quantity and quality) is allocated to its most valuable use within set limits, both at the time of allocation and for reallocation through time. This could include commercial, public and other uses, and in-stream and abstractive capacity. The project is related to the environmental limits project (since that is another mechanism for allocating water to different uses). However it is more focussed on alternatives to the current first-come-first-served consent mechanisms currently used by most regional councils.  It will:
    1. identify barriers to efficient and effective water allocation (for example legislative, capability or other barriers) and options for addressing those barriers
    2. identify different models that could be used in different types of catchments; including administrative and market based mechanisms, along with their risks and opportunities; their ability to provide for iwi/Māori rights and interests; and the legislative, institutional, information and capability requirements to make them work
    3. draw on experiences with different types of allocation mechanisms both within New Zealand and internationally.
  2. Resulting measures may include changes to the RMA or other legislation (both  minor process related amendments and potentially more fundamental changes), central government direction to local authorities, and/or models, incentives and guidance to support regional councils.

Over-allocation baseline and possible interim interventions

  1. We currently have an incomplete understanding of how sustainable existing water allocation is in the long term. There is no complete, up-to-date picture of what proportion of water bodies is allocated (in terms of both quantity (amount of fresh water extracted) and quality (discharges going into fresh water)). We also do not know where all over-allocated bodies are and what effect over-allocation is having on ecological values (including water quality), community values and other economic and non-economic uses. Interpretation of criteria for determining over-allocation is variable. Consequently, we do not know the scale of the over-allocation problem or the need for intervention, and there is no clear baseline from which to measure future progress.
  2. This project aims to provide an accurate stock take of allocation at a national level. It will use a range of indicators to determine over-allocation5.
  3. This project will undertake  a regional audit and develop a catchment based map of over-allocation by May 2010. It will identify existing and likely future pressure-points. Advice on whether intervention is needed, and details of options for any such intervention, would then be developed. This would include how demand management can lessen stresses on currently over-allocated resources. We also expect that this is an area where engagement with the Canterbury Water Management Strategy offers an opportunity to identify options and solutions in a specific real-world context.

Supporting measures

  1. This project will evaluate the uptake and effectiveness of existing voluntary and industry initiatives, exploring options to improve environmental outcomes, particularly the impact of diffuse discharges on water quality and its impacts on estuaries, freshwater and coastal fisheries, and biodiversity.
  2. It will identify means to enhance existing initiatives, including technology transfer and training, to ensure water users operate effectively within quality and quantity limits. This will include identifying what further incentives are needed to encourage change. Efforts will concentrate on catchments that are difficult to manage efficiently through regulations or market-based instruments alone.
  3. The project will identify the gaps in management tools, including water demand management and resource efficiency, and support development of good practice guidelines and other measures to address these gaps.

Rural water infrastructure

  1. Current regional water planning, RMA processes, cost and long investment horizons may be hindering optimal development of water infrastructure.  Despite the expected commercial returns from irrigation infrastructure, farmers and other investors report difficulty accessing finance for projects.
  2. Water infrastructure plays an important role in supplying, redistributing and often treating water, smoothing and increasing supply through capture and storage, drainage, controlling floods and protecting public health and water quality. Well-designed and managed irrigation infrastructure, developed as part of a strategic and integrated plan for water management, can be used as a tool to increase the technical efficiency of water use, enhance the potential for water to move to higher value uses, address over-allocation, and better manage the effect of land use intensification on water quality.  Poorly designed infrastructure can, on the other hand, have significant cost, water quality and social impacts.
  3. This project will prepare the ground to clarify the government’s role in water infrastructure decision-making and investment. It will identify options for reducing regulatory, planning and market barriers to cost-effective water infrastructure that enhances economic growth, achieves social goals and improves environmental management. This work will link with the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan. The water-related ideas from the Jobs Summit may also be progressed through this project. We expect the initial focus of this project will be on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and using it as a case study for resolving rural infrastructure issues.

Dependable monitoring and reporting

  1. The adequacy of existing freshwater monitoring systems, databases and reports for decision-making at all levels is questionable.  In particular, known inconsistencies between regions in some monitoring methods reduce the ability to meaningfully compare datasets and scale data up to meet national and international reporting requirements. 
  2. This project will confirm the extent of the problem and develop options to ensure information reported at all scales is collected in a consistent and dependable way which provides an accurate and cohesive view of water in New Zealand, as the basis for better management decisions.
  3. A stock take and gap analysis of existing water quality monitoring networks, methods and reporting will be complete in October 2009. From this, a working group, comprising both monitoring agencies and end users of the information, will be established to develop options (including national guidance, the possible need for legislation, funding and incentives) and report back by July 2010.

Aligning investment and improving uptake of water research

  1. Decisions on water management at national, regional and catchment scales need to be supported by a scientifically sound, robust and accessible evidence base that can deal with both uncertainty and risk.  Government investment in water research needs to deliver both the knowledge and tools required by decision makers. Decision makers also need the technical capability to use the decision tools. 
  2. This project will link closely with all other projects to capture and address capability, science and information issues relevant to water management. It will:
    1. consider how opportunities to co-ordinate water research which are emerging though development of a more stable funding system can be maximised (such as a future Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (“FRST”) Water Platform)
    2. explore how to improve alignment between, and value from, government, local authority, iwi and industry investment in water research
    3. address limitations to take-up of research associated with insufficient institutional and technical capability.
  3. In February 2010 a report will be produced on how we can maximise value from current research investment. The report will analyse research progress against current strategies, and identify gaps and hurdles to take-up of research.  A discussion paper on options for an integrated plan to develop and deliver the right tools and knowledge will be complete in July 2010.
  4. A Water Research Strategy is being developed to guide investment over the next 10 years and align national outcomes and water managers’ needs and research prioritisation and deliverables. While the strategy is targeted at current FRST investments, we are also looking for processes to guide wider investment in water research to attain the best value in delivery on the national outcomes.

Best practice water governance

  1. Effective water management requires clarity about who does what and decision-making rights. The purpose of this project is to develop options for improving water governance with particular regard to the role of iwi and catchment-based management. This project will explore the level at which decisions should be made, drawing on existing New Zealand and international experience and literature, presenting early analysis and options.
  2. One objective is to develop options for governance models that give better effect to the Treaty partnership with respect to water. As such, a component of this project is defining what principles would represent best-practice freshwater decision-making from an iwi perspective. These principles would both inform future options and be used to assess existing arrangements.
  3. The Forum is expected to contribute to the area of water governance, both by making recommendations on water governance and by being a trial for a model for collaborative governance. Wider work around the proposed Environmental Protection Agency will also contribute.

Building a consensus for change

  1. For fresh water reform to be effective, a consensus for change must be built with major stakeholders, iwi and the general public. The Forum and engagement with the Iwi Leaders Group have roles to play in this. Specific projects may produce information which also plays a role in increasing knowledge around existing information and tools. The public consultation which is to occur will also contribute to the informing of wider New Zealand of current water issues and possible changes.
  2. There will be a need, however, for more a systematic effort to ensure people have the necessary information to effectively participate in debates about freshwater reform. Work on options for this effort and the areas where focus is needed are proposed to be reported to Cabinet in November 2009.

Expected deliverables and results

  1. The proposed officials’ work programme is expected to deliver options for:
    1. technical amendments to the RMA in the areas of water allocation and quality to improve current water management processes
    2. national-level regulatory instruments and other means of delivering greater central government direction and consistency
    3. guidance, support, development of incentives and capability-building to help local government and other water users or managers, including model consents, economic instruments and regional regulatory provisions
    4. encouragement of voluntary measures, continued better targeted support for primary sector partnerships
    5. better public information.
  2. Detailed deliverables and sequencing are explored below within each project and in Appendices 1 and 2.
  3. Expected results include:
    1. more effective national direction
    2. greater clarity and certainty around iwi and Maori rights and interests in water and more iwi effective engagement in water governance
    3. water managers being better able to:
      1. set robust limits that reflect wider community values
      2. allocate available water within those limits to its best use
    4. water users being able to access water where they can make the best use of that water, and having the incentives and capability to manage the impacts of land use on water quality
    5. reduced time and resources spent in adversarial processes
    6. more informed public debate and participation in decision-making
    7. improved water quality, and better economic and environmental outcomes.

Process for major policy decisions

  1. The water work programme as a whole is working towards two main decision points:
    1. interim technical amendments and guidance on the current freshwater management framework as identified, with RMA amendments to be coordinated with the broader Phase Two package
    2. major decisions on a new policy framework for managing New Zealand’s freshwater resources.
  2. The figure below indicates the estimated timing of major policy decisions:

This figure indicates the estimated timing of major policy decisions

  1. In July 2010, the Forum will report back to government, and may seek to carry out consultation on outcomes, goals and potential options. The nature and level of detail of the Forum’s report and recommendations are not yet known because this will be determined by the collaborative process. It is therefore proposed to leave the decision on consultation and subsequent timing and processes until after the Forum reports.
  2. Once the Forum delivers their final recommendations, officials will be in a position to evaluate all relevant information:
    1. recommendations of the Land and Water Forum, to be delivered in July 2010
    2. a summary and analysis of policy options coming out of the officials’ work programme, expected in July/August 2010
    3. other relevant information and recommendations which become available.
  3. Evaluation work is expected to take four months, and will include discussions with the Iwi Leaders Group and their advisors. It is proposed that this evaluation forms the basis of a discussion document presenting a preferred policy package for good faith wider public consultation, to be led by government. The role of the Forum in the development of this discussion document and in this wider public consultation remains open, as it may be appropriate for members of the Forum to speak to and be questioned on certain aspects of the preferred policy package in public forums. We will consider and make recommendations on this when seeking approval of the preferred package for consultation.
  4. Public consultation will include, as a minimum, good faith consultation with Māori (including notification of all iwi authorities and a series of hui), targeted local government consultation and wider public engagement. The best process for Māori consultation will be discussed with the Iwi Leaders Group and their advisors after the Forum reports back and before any final decisions are made.
  5. Following wider public consultation, submissions and other feedback will be analysed to inform final decisions. Depending on the outcomes of the Forum and process agreed for consultation, major policy decisions should be able to be made from early-mid 2011. The Iwi Leaders Group will be consulted before major policy decisions are made, as previously agreed by Cabinet [CAB Min (09) 20/12 refers].

Requirement under the regulatory review programme

  1. Cabinet has invited Ministers responsible for work streams under the regulatory review programme to present terms of reference for those work streams [CAB Min (09) 6/5A]. Reform of freshwater management is one element of the resource management reforms, which are part of the regulatory review programme.
  2. We ask that Cabinet consider this paper to be the terms of reference required under that programme, as it sets out the information required with regard to:
    1. legislation/regulation covered, problem definition, objectives and options
    2. consultation required inside and outside central government
    3. timeframes and resourcing implications.

Consultation

  1. The Treasury, Ministry of Economic Development, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Fisheries, Te Puni Kōkiri, Department of Internal Affairs, Land Information New Zealand and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology have been involved in the development of the work programme, and concur with the contents of this paper.
  2. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has been informed.
  3. Advisors to the Iwi Leaders Group support the proposed officials’ work programme and have advised that it does not need to be discussed with the Iwi Leaders Group.
  4. The Chairman of the Land and Water Forum was also consulted in respect of this paper.

Financial implications

  1. The officials’ work programme will be delivered from existing baselines and reprioritisation for 2009/10. Any further financial implications will be identified in subsequent papers.

Human rights

  1. The proposals contained in this Cabinet paper do not appear to be inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 or the Human Rights Act 1993.  A final view as to whether the proposals will be consistent with these Acts will be possible once final decisions have been made on the recommendations put forward in the various report backs outlined in this paper, and when related legislation has been drafted.

Legislative implications

  1. The legislative implications of this work will be identified in subsequent papers. We anticipate potential amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 will be part of the 2010 legislative agenda.

Regulatory impact analysis

  1. The officials’ work programme proposed in this paper is likely to result in regulatory proposals. A regulatory impact statement(s) will be prepared when more detailed policy proposals are presented for approval.

Publicity

  1. The Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture intend to release this paper, subject to any appropriate withholdings, at an appropriate time. Press releases and supporting materials have been prepared.
  2. As iwi and Māori more generally have strong social, cultural and economic development interests in fresh water, the relationship between the Crown and Māori on fresh water matters is particularly important.  As such, having proper communications with wider iwi and Māori prior to the good faith engagement in late 2010 is crucial. To assist with managing relations with wider iwi, a communications plan will be prepared by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Justice and Te Puni Kōkiri.

Recommendations

  1. The Minister for the Environment and Minister of Agriculture recommend that the Committee:

Previous consideration

  1. note that Cabinet:

    1.1     agreed to a new strategy to improve freshwater management, including a stakeholder-led collaborative process run by the Land and Water Forum, discussions with the Iwi Leaders Group and the scoping of policy options led by officials

    1.2     invited the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture to report to the Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee with a work programme to build a consensus for change, work with the Iwi Leaders Group and to develop policy options [CAB Min (09) 20/12 refers]

  2. note that communication and information exchange protocols have been agreed with the Iwi Leaders Group in order to underpin meaningful engagement [CAB Min (09) 27/6 refers]

    Developing policy options

  3. note that this paper focuses on priorities for the scoping of policy options and the process for making final decisions on freshwater policy
  4. agree that:

    4.1     there will be no new national level policy decisions within the fresh water policy programme prior to the report-back of the Land and Water Forum in July 2010, with the exception of specific decisions to advance regional or local water issues if required.

    4.2     specific decisions to advance regional or local water issues, may be required before the Land and Water Forum reports back.  These will be subject to Cabinet approval when required and be advanced where needed

  5. agree that development of policy options focus on:

    5.1     setting quality and quantity limits for freshwater management

    5.2     developing the management tools to enable water managers and users to stay within those limits, and maximise the value of freshwater

  6. agree to a core water officials’ work programme comprising the following ten projects:

    6.1     environmental flows and water measuring

    6.2     water quality limits

    6.3     proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

    6.4     allocation of water to maximise value

    6.5     over-allocation baseline and possible interim interventions

    6.6     supporting measures

    6.7     rural water infrastructure

    6.8     dependable monitoring and reporting

    6.9     aligning investment and improving uptake of water research

    6.10    best practice water governance

  7. note the expected deliverables from these projects include:

    7.1     legislative amendments to the Resource Management Act

    7.2    national-level regulatory instruments and other means of delivering greater central government direction and consistency

    7.3     model consents, regional level regulatory frameworks and economic instruments

    7.4     guidance, support and capacity-building to help local government and other water users or managers

    7.5     encouragement of voluntary measures, continued support for primary sector partnerships, and the development of incentives

  8. note that the officials’ work programme represents an increased focus on fresh water, and that consideration is being given in departments on how to reprioritise work in order to deliver on the priority projects

Engagement processes

  1. note the Iwi Leaders Group and their advisors will be involved in the scoping of policy options to ensure matters of concern for Māori are identified and considered as a part of each project
  2. agree that targeted discussions with local government, iwi, non-governmental organisations and industry will be carried out in the development of policy options
  3. note that following the Land and Water Forum report in July 2010, wider good-faith consultation with Māori will be needed before major decisions are made

Regulatory review programme

  1. agree that this paper constitutes the terms of reference for the purposes of the regulatory review programme [CAB Min (09) 6/5A refers]

Next steps

  1. invite the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture to report back to Cabinet EGI Committee in [withheld] with:

    13.1     a progress report on the Land and Water Forum

    13.2     progress on the ten priority projects

    13.3     proposals for building consensus for change

  2. note the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture intend to report back to Cabinet EGI Committee in [withheld], after the report of the Land and Water Forum, with a preferred policy package for freshwater management and a consultation plan

Communications

  1. direct the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Justice and Te Puni Kōkiri to develop a communications plan for iwi and Māori
  2. note that, subject to Cabinet confirmation of this paper, the Minister for the Environment and Minister of Agriculture plan a media release detailing the decisions taken
  3. authorise the Minister for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture to publicly release this paper, subject to any necessary withholdings.
     

[Signed by]

Hon Dr Nick Smith                                                             
Minister for the Environment      

Hon David Carter     
Minister of Agriculture                               

Appendix 1: Likely deliverables from projects

  RMA amendments Regulation, national instruments Model consents, econ instruments Guidance, Support, Capability Voluntary Measures
1. NESs and regulations on environmental flows and water metering   Likely   Possible  
2. Quality standards Possible Likely Possible Likely Possible
3. NPS on Freshwater Management   Likely      
4. Better allocation regimes Likely Possible Possible Possible  
5. Over-allocation Possible Possible Possible Possible  
6. Supporting measures       Likely Likely
7. Infrastructure Possible     Likely  
8. Monitoring and reporting Possible Likely   Possible Possible
9 Science alignment       Likely  
10. Effective decision-making Likely Possible Possible Likely  


Appendix 2: [Withheld]

Appendix 3. Officials’ work programme main linkages and possible synergies

Main linkages between core officials’ work programme and other initiatives Infrastructure Allocation Quality Decision-making Science and monitoring
Canterbury Water Management Strategy Strong synergies Strong synergies Strong synergies Strong synergies Weak synergies
Waikato River agreements     Strong synergies Strong synergies  
Other Treaty settlements   Weak synergies Strong synergies Strong synergies  
Auckland governance Strong synergies     Strong synergies  
Lake Taupo Clean Up   Weak synergies Strong synergies Weak synergies Weak synergies
Rotorua Lakes Restoration Programme Weak synergies Weak synergies Strong synergies Weak synergies Weak synergies
NPS on renewable electricity generation and other energy policy work Strong synergies Strong synergies      
National Infrastructure Plan and RM Phase 2 infrastructure work Strong synergies Strong synergies      
Economic Development Programme of Action Strong synergies Strong synergies      
Various primary sector partnerships & community initiatives   Weak synergies Strong synergies Weak synergies Weak synergies
Freshwater Research Strategies         Strong synergies
Phase 2-Aquaculture   Weak synergies Weak synergies    
Phase 2-Environmental Protection Authority   Weak synergies Strong synergies Strong synergies Strong synergies
Phase 2-Infrastructure Strong synergies Strong synergies      
Phase 2 -Generic Weak synergies Weak synergies Weak synergies Weak synergies Weak synergies
Phase 2 -Urban Planning       Weak synergies  
Phase 2- Interface with Conservation Act 1997   Weak synergies Weak synergies    
Drinking water management Strong synergies Weak synergies Strong synergies Weak synergies Strong synergies
           
Strong
synergies:
    Weaker synergies:  

 

1. The Iwi Leaders Group comprises: Sir Tumu Te Heuheu (Chair, Ngāti Tuwharetoa), Tukoroirangi Morgan (Tainui), Toby Curtis (Te Arawa), Sir Archie Te Atawhai Taiaroa (Whanganui), Mark Solomon (Ngāi Tahu)
 

2. The Iwi Leaders Group has noted that their engagement must not be “misrepresented as usurping the mana and autonomy that each iwi has in respect to their own engagement with the Crown. The necessity for engagement with other iwi on a wider scale remains…”

3. The joint work programme, agreed by Government and the Iwi Leaders Group, included a series of research projects (e.g. on council engagement with iwi and on iwi perspectives to allocation) and related conversations, designed to inform policy development and discussions between Ministers and the Iwi Leaders Group.

4. Environmental flows are the flows and water levels established by a regional plan or other statutory tool to provide for a given set of values such as ecological, tangata whenua, cultural, amenity, recreational, landscape and natural character values and other values associated with water. Ecological flows are therefore just one component of environmental flows.

5. These would include paper over-allocation (over-allocation based on consents rather then actual use and/or state of fresh water), breaching of health standards, iwi health indexes, community initiatives to address shortage or quality issues and scientific studies such as those looking at likely deterioration as a result of existing land-use patterns.