Prioritising action in at-risk catchments

The Government is acting on recommendations from the Land and Water Forum to identify 'at-risk' catchments, ensure plans are in place for those catchments and take action where necessary.

What is happening

The Government is gathering information from regional councils and other interested groups on the state of catchments in New Zealand. While regional councils hold a lot of information about the state of catchments in both urban and rural parts of each region, there is no coherent national picture. 

More information will be published on this web page as the project progresses.

A catchment is an area of land where water collects when it rains.  As the water flows over the landscape it finds its way into streams and down into the soil, eventually feeding the rivers, lakes and wetlands. Some of this water infiltrates through the ground to aquifers (groundwater). Every inch of land on the Earth forms part of a catchment. New Zealand has an estimated 4200 catchments, large and small, and each has different conditions which impact on water quality.

The Land and Water Forum defines at-risk catchments as those where:

  • there is a  clear decline in water quality or ecosystem health; or
  • where the water resource is under pressure from existing or anticipated future land use change, leading to a likely decline in water quality; or
  • where the waterbody is vulnerable to irreversible detrimental change, and urgent action is needed.

Find out more

Read the Land and Water Forum report

Read the Environment Minister's and Agriculture Minister's joint media release on the Beehive website