This page provides information about the Government's freshwater reform programme.
The Government's announcement about decisions from the Clean Water consultation is the most recent step in a long series of reforms.
Since 2009 the Government has been working on wide-ranging long-term improvements to how fresh water is managed in New Zealand. It has included water metering regulations in 2009, the National Policy Statement in 2011, the Freshwater National Objective Framework in 2014 and the 90 per cent of lakes and rivers swimmable by 2040 target announced in 2017.
Timeline of fresh water management reforms and initiatives
|Year||Reforms and initiatives||Related documents and web pages|
The Government announces new initiatives to improve our fresh water quality in August following public consultation in early 2017.
The proposals build on those presented by the Government in 2016, see Next Steps for fresh water below.
The amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 took effect on 7 September 2017.
For the discussion document and supporting documents see: Clean water: 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040
|2016 || |
The Government announces its Next steps for fresh water proposals.
The aim is to deliver better environmental and economic outcomes and better outcomes for iwi.
Public consultation is held from 20 February to 22 April 2016.
Discussion document: Next steps for fresh water
Our Land and Water Science Challenge is launched.
The challenge involves research to enhance primary sector production while maintaining or improving land and water quality.
|2015 || |
The Environmental Reporting Act 2015 comes into effect.
It requires that Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand regularly report on the pressures, states and impacts relating to fresh water and other environmental domains.
Environment Aotearoa 2015, the first environmental report under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015, is released. It includes a chapter on the freshwater environment.
The Government launches the Te Mana o te Wai Fund to help Māori improve the water quality of freshwater bodies of importance to them.
The Government amends the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011. The amendments introduce a National Objectives Framework and national bottom lines for water quality.
|2013 || |
The Government consults on the following freshwater management proposals.
The Government proposes amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011.
The Government introduces the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011.
It recognises freshwater management as a nationally significant issue requiring central government direction. It requires regional councils to set freshwater objectives and limits to manage water quality and quantity.
The Government launches the Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean-up Fund. It allocates $14.5 million from 2011 to 2014 to seven projects to restore waterways affected by historical pollution.
The Government launches the Irrigation Acceleration Fund.
Irrigation Acceleration Fund [Ministry for Primary Industries website]
The Government introduces the Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations 2010.
They require water users to measure how much water they use.
The Government asks the stakeholder-led Land and Water Forum to take a collaborative and consensus-based approach to freshwater management issues in New Zealand. The forum produces four reports.
The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website is launched to help communities access data about water quality in their rivers and lakes.
Land and Water Forum reports [Land and Water Forum website]
Find out more
Ministers' media releases - Beehive website
100-plus rivers and lakes to be improved August 2017
90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040 February 2017
Next steps for freshwater February 2016
Ministers welcome final fresh water report November 2012
Forum to progress next stage in water reforms September 2011
Funding available to clean up rivers and lakes September 2011
Fresh start for fresh water May 2011