About the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (Freshwater NPS) provides local authorities with direction on how to manage freshwater under the Resource Management Act 1991. 

Requirements of the Freshwater NPS 

Requirements of the Freshwater NPS include:

  • Manage freshwater in a way that ‘gives effect’ to Te Mana o te Wai:
    • through involving tangata whenua 
    • working with tangata whenua and communities to set out long-term visions in the regional policy statement
    • prioritising the health and wellbeing of water bodies, then the essential needs of people, followed by other uses.
  • Improve degraded water bodies, and maintain or improve all others using bottom lines defined in the Freshwater NPS. 
  • An expanded national objectives framework:
    • two additional values - threatened species and mahinga kai - join ecosystem health and human health for recreation, as compulsory values 
    • councils must develop plan objectives that describe the environmental outcome sought for all values (including an objective for each of the five individual components of ecosystem health)  
    • new attributes, aimed specifically at providing for ecosystem health, include fish index of biotic integrity (IBI), sediment, macroinvertebrates (MCI and QMCI), dissolved oxygen, ecosystem metabolism and submerged plants in lakes; councils will have to develop action plans and/or set limits on resource use to achieve these attributes. 
    • tougher national bottom lines for the ammonia and nitrate toxicity attributes to protect 95% of species from toxic effects (up from 80%)
  • Avoid any further loss or degradation of wetlands and streams, map existing wetlands and encourage their restoration.
  • Identify and work towards target outcomes for fish abundance, diversity and passage and address in-stream barriers to fish passage over time.
  • Set an aquatic life objective for fish and address in-stream barriers to fish passage over time.
  • Monitor and report annually on freshwater (including the data used); publish a synthesis report every five years containing a single ecosystem health score and respond to any deterioration.

The above list is not exhaustive.

The Freshwater NPS is one of four pieces of national direction for managing New Zealand’s freshwater. 

Local authorities are also required to give effect to the:

Find out more about the new freshwater rules and regulations