Fresh water


Work programme for improving the quality of our fresh water

The Government is committed to delivering a noticeable improvement in our water quality within five years. Its work programme for the next two years is set out in the document Essential Freshwater: Healthy Water, Fairly Allocated.  

The Government acknowledges that water quality cannot be addressed without a concurrent and substantive discussion with Māori. The document Shared Interests in Freshwater sets out a new approach to the Māori/Crown relationship for freshwater.

We all have a role to play

We need help from the government, the farming sector, the businesses who use freshwater, communities and individuals. If we all work together we can make a big difference.

Looking after water, what you can do: 

Why fresh water matters

Water is one of our most precious resources – it is essential to life on earth. We want New Zealand to be the most liveable place in the world, with healthy lakes and rivers and the best possible water quality.

Our lakes and rivers are feeling the pressure of more than 150 years of a growing population and changes in the way we use the land. We need to manage our fresh water carefully.

State of our fresh water

Our national data gives us a picture of the state of our water and the pressures on it. There are issues we need to address.

Check out our maps which show rivers and lakes that are generally suitable for swimming, and where water quality for swimming could be improved.

Partnership for good farming practice

A plan to help farmers and growers reduce their impact on fresh water, through good farming practices, has been jointly developed by primary sector representatives, Regional Councils, the Ministries of Environment and Primary Industries.

The Good Farming Practice: Action Plan for Water Quality 2018 commits to supporting all farmers and growers to implement good practice principles that will reduce their impact on our freshwater. The Action Plan’s purpose is to accelerate the uptake of good farming practices for improving water quality, to measure and demonstrate this uptake, to assess the impact and benefit of those farming practices, and to communicate progress to the wider public.

See the plan, and examples of good farming practice and farm environmental plans [Federated Farmers website]

Photo: Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor discuss good farming practice with Waikato farmers Bill and Sue Garland.