Fresh water


Action for healthy waterways

New Zealanders want to swim, fish, gather mahinga kai and enjoy freshwater as our parents and grandparents did. We also need clean water to drink and irrigation to support a sustainable economy.

But our water is suffering as a result of urban development, agriculture, horticulture, forestry and other human activities. There is also a lack of robust regulation, monitoring and enforcement.

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.

See the interactive maps on the LAWA website to find out:

  • about water quality of lakes and rivers in your region and nationally 

  • what water is used for and how much 

  • the best place to swim. 

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.