This page provides information about the changes that have been made to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (Freshwater NPS), which are aimed at ensuring freshwater quality improves over time. These changes came into effect on 7 September 2017.
Supporting the Government’s national swimming targets
The Government has set a target to make 90 per cent of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040.
The new requirements in the Freshwater NPS that support this target include:
- requirements for regional councils to improve water quality
- requirements for regional councils to report on contributions to achieving regional targets every five years.
In addition to the existing monitoring requirements, regional councils are now required to monitor progress towards freshwater objectives and values using macroinvertebrates, indigenous flora and fauna, and mātauranga Māori. They are required to establish methods for responding to monitoring, and to make monitoring information publicly available.
Managing nutrients in rivers
There are new requirements for regional councils to follow when managing the level of nutrients – such as nitrogen and phosphorus – which can go into waterways.
Regional councils are now required to specify the nutrient levels they are aiming for in their regional plans.
Te Mana o te Wai
The concept of Te Mana o te Wai recognises fresh water as a natural resource that is integral to the social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of communities. The Freshwater NPS has been updated to clarify the meaning of Te Mana o te Wai in freshwater management.
Changes make it clear that regional councils should consider the economic well-being of communities at all stages of decision-making under the Freshwater NPS, as well as the environmental, social and cultural well-being. It makes it explicit that this consideration is within the context of setting environmental limits.
Maintaining or improving freshwater quality
New provisions clarify requirements for regional councils about maintaining or improving overall water quality, to make the requirements clearer.
Infrastructure exceptions to national bottom lines
There are minor changes to the Freshwater NPS to clarify how it applies in cases where national bottom lines for water quality are unable to be met because of significant infrastructure (eg, hydro dams).
Coastal lakes and lagoons
There are minor changes to clarify the requirements for coastal lakes and lagoons which are sometimes seawater and sometimes fresh water.