The Government is taking action to restore and protect the health of New Zealand's waterways.
Why action is needed
The health of our freshwater is vital for the health of our people, environment, and economy. However freshwater quality is declining. It is being impacted by urban development, agriculture, horticulture, forestry and other activities. Current regulation has not been able to halt the decline in too many of our catchments.
We need to take action to restore and protect our wai.
The action we are taking
The Essential Freshwater package introduces new rules and regulations to:
- stop further degradation of New Zealand’s freshwater resources and improve water quality within five years
- reverse past damage and bring New Zealand’s freshwater resources, waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.
New National Environmental Standards for Freshwater and a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management will prevent further loss and degradation of freshwater habitats and introduce controls on some high risk activities. These will come into force on 3 September 2020.
See also information on new Stock exclusion regulations and on regulations that will require real-time reporting for water-takes data.
Read the Minister's release: New rules in place to restore healthy rivers 5 August 2020 [Beehive website]
Find out what the Essential Freshwater new rules and regulations might mean for you and what support is available.
Other useful information
- Factsheets on policies and regulations in the Essential Freshwater package
- Action for healthy waterways: information on benefits and costs
- Action for healthy waterways: information about attributes in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
- Action for healthy waterways: information on modelling that supports Action for healthy waterways package
How public consultation informed the policy decisions
Following public consultation on this policy package in September and October 2019, the Government received approximately 17,500 submissions. We have prepared a summary of submissions document. After consideration, we have decided not to publish individual submissions because of the size of the task involved in redacting identifying information from each submission.
The policies changed significantly in light of the public submissions and recommendations from the Independent Advisory Panel. The package was also amended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in light of new implementation challenges.
See guidance on the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (Freshwater NPS 2020). Further guidance is being developed with our Treaty partners and stakeholders and will be provided as it is finalised.
Find out more
Supporting evidence for action for healthy waterways (Advisory group and consultant reports)