What you can do for water

Water is vital to our health and wellbeing, our livelihoods, and our way of life. We all have a responsibility to look after our fresh water. There are a number of ways you can help.

Get involved in freshwater management

Have your say about how water use is regulated or about farming practices which affect the flow of nutrients and sediment into waterways.

For consultations happening now — check out the consultation sections of our website, the Department of Conservation website and the Ministry of Primary Industries website. See also your local council websites to make submissions on plan changes or take part in collaborative management groups.

Reduce your water footprint

Your water footprint is the amount of water that goes into maintaining your lifestyle — including the food you eat, the manufacturing of the products you buy and your household water consumption. Reducing your water footprint is good for the environment both in terms of water availability and quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention, it can be good for your wallet!

You can reduce your water footprint in day-to-day life by:

  • reducing your shower time or installing a low flow shower head — for every two minutes you cut down by you’ll save about 16 litres
  • watering your garden at night to reduce evaporation — if you’re an avid gardener consider using water collected from your roof 
  • not fully flushing your toilet all the time
  • running your washing machine or dishwasher only when it’s full
  • turning off the tap while brushing your teeth — this saves four litres of water each time. 
  • installing a grey water system in your home
  • checking out the water efficiency of appliances before buying, using the blue star rating system, see the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme.

Make sure only water enters our drains

It’s not just about the amount of water you use. You can also reduce the amount of pollution entering our waterways.

  • Wash your car at a carwash if possible (they have high quality filters to remove chemicals). Otherwise, wash it on grass and away from drains using as little detergent as possible. 
  • Ensure paints and solvents are disposed of correctly — contact the seller or your council for the best disposal methods in your region. 
  • Pick up any litter you see entering drains (or blowing around generally) — this makes its way into our marine and freshwater environments and is harmful to wildlife. 
  • Consider pets and winds when putting your rubbish out. If you have a lot of neighborhood cats (or live in a windy spot) its better to put your rubbish out the morning of collection. That way, there is less time for the bag to get torn.

Help prevent the spread of pests

Freshwater pests can be spread by your activities in and around waterways. If you're moving between waterways, you must clean all your gear using the 'Check, Clean, Dry' method.

For ways to prevent pests from spreading between rivers and lakes, see Boating & watersports and Check, clean, dry on the Ministry of Primary Industries website.

Community projects

There are some great initiatives for getting ‘hands on’ in improving your local waterways. These include litter removal, riparian planting and wetland restoration.

To find events or initiatives in your region, check out:

Thanks very much for your efforts! The environment appreciates it.

Find out more

The Ministry and some other government departments provide funding for freshwater projects and partnerships. For more information see our web pages on funding.

To find out about some of the projects to have received Government funding see:

Projects funded through the Freshwater Improvement Fund

Projects funded through the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund