Development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

This page outlines the development of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the two suites of amendments made in 2014 and 2017.

Freshwater NPS introduced in 2011

In 2006, the Minister for the Environment prepared a national policy statement for the management of fresh water. This was referred to a Board of Inquiry in 2008. The Board heard submissions on the policy statement and prepared report of recommendations for the Minister (see the bottom of this page for a link to this report).

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (Freshwater NPS) was introduced in 2011. It was updated and replaced in 2014, and amended in 2017.

Diagram of the Freshwater NPS 2014 development process

2014 changes

The Freshwater NPS 2011 was amended and replaced in 2014 to introduce the national objective framework as a way to help regional councils apply the requirements of the Freshwater NPS in a consistent way across the country.

National framework for setting freshwater objectives

The national objectives framework specifies the process regional councils must use to set freshwater objectives. Objectives must, as a minimum, be set for two compulsory values: ecosystem health and human health for recreation. Some national bottom lines, based on robust science, have been adopted for the compulsory values. Objectives must be set above the national bottom lines.

In 2012, the stakeholder-led Land and Water Forum released their Second Report, which raised the idea of a national framework to help councils set freshwater objectives in their regional plans. The Government explored the idea in its March 2013 paper ‘Freshwater reform 2013 and beyond’ and proposed amendments to the Freshwater NPS to require councils to follow this process later that year.

Science advice on the framework

The attributes (eg, total nitrogen, nitrate toxicity, periphyton) and their associated national bottom lines in the Freshwater NPS were selected on the advice of specialist science panels.
The scientists took part in a range of expert panels to consider:

  • the critical attributes of water quality for which objectives need to be set
  • the critical levels for each attribute
  • an appropriate level to set a bottom line before an ecosystem tipping point.

The recommendations from the expert panels were then considered by a Science Review Panel. The Science Review Panel provided advice to officials on attributes that could be included in the Freshwater NPS in the 2014 amendments and those which would need further development for later inclusion. The Science Review Panel also provided advice on the robustness of the science approaches that were used.

Science panel members [PDF, 49 KB]

Science panel members [DOC, 98 KB]

NPS-FM supporting scientific and economic impact papers

Water users’ advice

The proposed attributes were considered by a reference group of water users and managers which provided advice to officials on their workability.

National objectives framework reference group members [PDF, 223 KB]

National objectives framework reference group members [DOC, 40 KB]

Report of the national objectives framework reference group (October 2012) [PDF, 1.1 MB]

2017 changes

In 2017 the Government amended the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (Freshwater NPS) so that it would:

  • introduce national targets for swimmable lakes and rivers.
  • increase direction for Te Mana o te Wai in freshwater management
  • provide direction for monitoring macroinvertebrates, managing nitrogen and phosphorus, and considering economic well-being
  • require regional councils to improve water quality in terms of human health.

Read more about the national swimming targets

Read the fact sheets on the changes to the Freshwater NPS being brought in to support them

More to come

The Government is committed to delivering a noticeable improvement in our water quality within five years. Find out more

Publications and related web pages

Date Publication
2017 National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (amended 2017)
 

A User guide to the Macroinvertebrate Community Index 

Incorporated by reference to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, amended 2017

 

River Environment Classification system 

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Version 1 (incorporated by reference to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, amended 2017)

  Section 32AA evaluation report: For proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014  (August 2017)
  Submissions report and recommendations on proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (August 2017)
  Summary of recommendations and the Minister for the Environment’s decisions on amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (September 2017)
 

Submissions on the proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014

  Clean water: 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040 (discussion document) (February 2017)
2014 National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (superseded) (July 2014)
  NPS-FM 2014: Summary of the recommendations and the Minister for the Environment's decision / (July 2014)
  Submissions on the proposed amendments to the NPS-FM 2011
  Proposed amendments to the NPS-FM 2011 – Section 32AA evaluation / (July 2014)
2013 Proposed amendments to the NPS-FM 2011: A discussion document / (November 2013)
  Freshwater reform 2013 and beyond (proposals for freshwater reforms)
2011 National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011 / (superseded) (May 2011)
  NPS-FM 2011 - Evaluation under Section 32 of the Resource Management Act 1991 / (May 2011)
  Summary of the Board of Inquiry's recommendations and the Minister for the Environment's decision on the NPS-FM 2011 / (May 2011)
2010 Report and recommendations of the Board of Inquiry into the proposed NPS-FM / (February 2010)

Find out more

Cabinet papers and related material

Reviewed:
25/10/18