About the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

This page explains the role and requirements of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014.

Link to the NPS-FM

What the NPS-FM is about

National policy statements are issued by central government to provide direction to local government about matters of national significance. The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM) is about recognising the national significance of fresh water and Te Mana o te Wai (the mana of the water).

Proposed amendments to the NPS-FM

The Government consulted on proposed amendments to the NPS-FM in March/April 2017. Read about the proposed amendments on the Clean Water package 2017 web page.

Public submissions closed on Friday 28 April 2017.

What it does

The NPS-FM provides direction about how local authorities should carry out their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991 for managing fresh water. It’s particularly important for regional councils, as it directs them to consider specific matters and to meet certain requirements when they are developing regional plans for fresh water.

What it requires

In a nutshell, the NPS-FM directs regional councils, in consultation with their communities, to set objectives for the state of fresh water bodies in their regions and to set limits to meet these objectives.

Some of the key requirements of the NPS-FM are to:

  • safeguard fresh water’s life-supporting capacity, ecosystem processes, and indigenous species
  • safeguard the health of people who come into contact with the water through recreation
  • maintain or improve the overall quality of fresh water within a region     
  • protect the significant values of wetlands and outstanding freshwater bodies
  • follow a specific process (sometimes referred to as the National Objectives Framework or NOF) for identifying the values that tāngata whenua and communities have for water, and using a specified set of water quality measures (called attributes) to set objectives
  • set limits on resource use (eg, how much water can be taken or how much of a contaminant can be discharged) to meet limits over time and ensure they continue to be met
  • determine the appropriate set of methods to meet the objectives and limits
  • take an integrated approach to managing land use, fresh water and coastal water
  • involve iwi and hapū in decision-making and management of fresh water.

The above list is not exhaustive.

For more detailed information about the requirements of the NPS-FM see Guidance on implementing the NPS-FM or read the NPS-FM itself. 

How it is being implemented

The NPS-FM must be fully implemented no later than 31 December 2025 (or 31 December 2030 in certain circumstances).

If regional councils cannot implement the NPS-FM by the end of 2015 they were required to identify a programme of time-limited stages to meet the 2025 date, known as a progressive implementation programme. They must report annually on their progress towards their progressive implementation programme. 

Read about Regional councils’ implementation programmes.

Support and guidance for implementation

The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries are providing guidance to support councils, iwi, and other people involved in implementing the NPS-FM in their local communities.

The guidance includes a range of: 

  • online resources that explain what needs to be done at different stages of the freshwater planning process  
  • publications that provide more detail for the people involved, to help them through the various stages.

See the Guidance on implementing the NPS-FM.

How we’re continuing to develop it

The NPS-FM came into force in 2011. It was amended in 2014. A new suite of amendments have been proposed as part of the 'Clean Water' package of reforms. 

Read more about these and how to have your say on the Clean Water package 2017 web page.

Find out more

Minister’s media release: Clear, robust national standards for water quality July 2014 [Beehive website]