National Environmental Standards for Freshwater

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 will regulate activities that pose risks to the health of freshwater and freshwater ecosystems. They will come into force later this year.

What the Freshwater NES will do

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (Freshwater NES) will set requirements for carrying out certain activities that pose risks to freshwater and freshwater ecosystems. Anyone carrying out these activities will need to comply with the standards. 

The standards are designed to:

  • protect existing inland and coastal wetlands
  • protect urban and rural streams from in-filling
  • ensure connectivity of fish habitat (fish passage)
  • set minimum requirements for feedlots and other stockholding areas (to take effect in winter of 2021)
  • improve poor practice intensive winter grazing of forage crops (to take effect in winter of 2021)
  • restrict further agricultural intensification until the end of 2024
  • limit the discharge of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to land, and require reporting of fertiliser use (to take effect in winter of 2021).

In many cases, people will need a resource consent from their regional council before carrying out regulated activities.

When the Freshwater NES will take effect

The Freshwater NES is currently being drafted. We expect it will be published later this year. Some parts will take effect 28 days after it is published. Other parts (see section above) won’t come into effect until the winter of 2021.

The Freshwater NES is one of a number of national directions for managing New Zealand’s freshwater resources. A new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management is also being introduced. Guidance to support the implementation of these new rules and regulations will be released as they come into force.

Find out more about the new freshwater rules and regulations

Reviewed:
28/05/20