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4 Responses to the Proposed Actions

Thirteen key actions were identified in the discussion document. The 13 actions were grouped into four main areas for the presentation at the consultation meetings.

  • providing national direction
  • central government being more involved
  • providing more tools to councils
  • working together.

The grouping of the 13 actions into four main areas can be seen in the table below.

13 actions grouped into four main areas

Provide national direction

Central government being more involved

Working together

Providing more tools to councils

Action 1: Develop national policy statements

Action 2: Develop national environmental standards

Action 3: Address nationally important values

Action 4: Increase central government participation in regional planning

Action 5: Increase central government's support for local government

Action 10: Enhance Māori participation

Action 12: Raise awareness of freshwater problems and pressures, and promote solutions

Action 13: Collaboration between central and local government, scientists and key stakeholders, on pilot projects to demonstrate and test new water management initiatives

Action 6: Develop special mechanisms for regional councils

Action 7: Enhance the transfer of allocated water between users

Action 8: Develop market mechanisms to manage diffuse discharges

Action 9: Set requirements for regional freshwater plans to address key issues and challenges

Action 11: Enable regional councils to allocate water to priority uses

Central government direction

Action 1: Develop national policy statements

The general view held by participants was that a national policy statement could identify national priorities and values, and could provide direction and consistency for councils in their management of freshwater. However, a strong theme at all of the meetings was that a national policy statement should not interfere with or override local decision-making for freshwater. Support was expressed for central government to develop an overarching framework and vision for freshwater that incorporates a process for maintaining local decision-making. A framework should also be accompanied by funding, guidance and support from central government to ease the burden of implementation costs on local rate-payers.

Specific views

Many participants supported defining the national interest in freshwater and setting national priorities through a national policy statement. These views were strongly accompanied by the statement that a national policy statement process needs to account for regional and local differences.

One size should not fit all. (Hamilton)

How can people in Wellington decide what is best for the country. (Wellington)

Retaining local decision-making for freshwater was a common theme raised at all of the meetings. Participants also raised concern that the proposals in the discussion document indicate central government encroachment on local government functions for managing freshwater.

A national policy statement was also regarded by some participants as a threat to existing regional planning and policy processes. One participant at the Alexandra meeting stated that the problems are with the implementation of the framework, rather than the framework itself. Changes to the framework, including developing a national policy statement, may not be necessary. Another layer of control was regarded as costly and ineffective, and guidelines were thought to be a better option.

Action 2: Develop national environmental standards

Participants supported the development of a national environmental standard which provides for regional variations. A standard could provide consistent methodologies for regional councils but it must not override local initiatives that are already working effectively. Implementation and decision-making must be kept at the local level.

Specific views

Discussions were held at most of the meetings about setting environmental bottom-lines for water quality and how this could be achieved. Suggestions at the Christchurch meeting included requiring most major rivers to meet world health standards, as well as defining national goals. An example of a goal could be requiring all rivers to be safe for swimming by a certain target date.

A national environmental standard for water quality would be useful. (Timaru)

Participants at meetings held in Palmerston North, Invercargill, Masterton, Hamilton and Christchurch raised the need for consistency of methods for setting environmental bottom lines. Central government could have a role in setting parameters and frameworks, but implementation should be undertaken at the regional level. Implementation would also need to be accompanied by guidance and funding from central government.

National standards could provide more consistency in administering the Resource Management Act but would need to be accompanied by funding. (Taupo)

One participant at the Napier meeting stated that a national environmental standard could also reduce Environment Court costs because it could provide goals and guidance for local government.

One participant at the Christchurch meeting suggested that standards could be set by the community. The point was also made at the New Plymouth meeting that a standard should be flexible to allow for higher thresholds to be set by councils.

The need for a standard to recognise and provide for regional differences was a dominant theme at all of the meetings. Many participants regarded the recognition of the differences in catchments and the different management approaches as fundamental to a process for developing national environmental standards.

Participants at most meetings raised concern about how a national environmental standard would impact on regional plans and policies and other local solutions which are already in place and working effectively.

Regional plans allow the community to develop local solutions; central government may not always know best. (Palmerston North)

One participant at the Dunedin meeting stated that caution is needed when deciding which type of issues are suitable for a 'top-down' rather than 'bottom-up' approach. Participants at the Alexandra meeting thought guidelines were more appropriate than regulation.

Opposition to any form of a national environmental standard or government intervention in freshwater management was expressed by some participants at the Auckland and Timaru meetings:

[I] do not want central government intervention. (Auckland)

One size does not fit all; no national guidance is needed; [I] do not want central government overriding local communities. (Timaru)

Action 3: Address nationally important values

Participants discussed the value of defining national priorities and national values for water bodies; however, views on this action were divided. The theme of maintaining local decision-making and local solutions for local problems was evident at most meetings. Some participants raised concern that central government is attempting to take over regional government responsibilities and that the under-lying principle of local decision-making within the Resource Management Act is not being upheld. Participants raised the need for clearly defined roles between the different layers of government if the water bodies of national importance work is to progress.

Specific views

Some participants at the Alexandra, Christchurch and Blenheim meetings regarded the identification of nationally important values for freshwater bodies as useful. However, the need to involve the public in this process was raised on several occasions:

There is some place for overarching principles on what is more important to the nation, but we want participation in developing this work. (Blenheim)

Participants at the Christchurch meeting raised the need for a national strategy to identify nationally important waterways, as well as the need for flexibility in the way values are considered. Setting priorities for water use nationally was regarded as useful by some participants at the New Plymouth meeting, provided regional differences are recognised.

Some participants raised concern about assessing local versus national criteria, and whether central government would override local community decisions when setting the priorities for water bodies of national importance. One participant at the Masterton meeting suggested that the balancing between values should be determined at the local level, using a transparent and collaborative process:

A national values approach is a way of overriding local views and decisions; local rights should not be overridden by the national interest. (Masterton)

One participant at the Taupo meeting suggested that a comparison of values should be undertaken using a focus group approach, rather than a numerical approach like some of the methodologies developed in the Water Bodies of National Importance sub-projects:

The recreation and tourism water bodies of national importance reports are nonsensical, there is no standard process for comparing the different values which could be done using a focus group approach rather than a numerical approach; need to accompany this work with funding. (Taupo)

Concern was also raised by some participants that communities could be responsible for maintaining outcomes that will have been set at the national level. Participants at the Greymouth meeting raised the need for funding for regions and communities to implement national outcomes.

Central government involvement

Action 4: Increase central government participation in regional planning

Participants generally supported increasing central government participation in regional planning where it involved central government providing information and guidance to local decision-making and implementation. A strong view was raised at most meetings that central government participation should not occur at the expense of local involvement and input. This was regarded as essential, particularly for providing an understanding of local issues and environments. Consideration needed to be given to where central and regional government are best placed to act.

Comments made by participants regarding Action 4 fell into the following subject areas:

  • central government input into regional planning
  • auditing/monitoring of local government by central government
  • whole of government submissions
  • central government providing guidance and sharing information.

Central government input into regional planning

Participants generally supported central government input into regional planning as long as it did not override local involvement and decision-making. Co-ordination, leadership and direction should come from central government rather than rules. If there is to be central government input into regional planning, there must be flexibility to allow local interpretation according to the issues facing individual councils.

One participant at the Rotorua meeting expressed the need for central government to provide: leadership, strategic direction, facilitation and catalysts. At the Nelson meeting, a participant commented that deciding on the respective roles of central and local government must be addressed first in order to make improvements.

The view of one participant at the Timaru meeting was that local involvement and input into regional planning and decision making should take priority over central government participation:

Central government should stay out; they should provide basic rules only and leave the decisions to the regions. (Timaru)

A similar view was expressed by a participant at the Napier public meeting:

More central government involvement could blur the lines of responsibility. If the regional council is doing a good job, central government should not interfere. (Napier)

An alternative view was presented by a participant at the Hamilton meeting who suggested that there may be potential for central government to be involved as a stakeholder rather than having a role in running processes and making decisions.

Participants at several meetings stated that decisions are best made at the local level by those who have an understanding of local issues and environments. This view was reinforced at the Rotorua public meeting by the comment that local government has the skills and experience to deal with local issues.

Although some participants felt that local government holds the appropriate skills and knowledge for decision-making, comments were made about the need for improved expertise in water management. Central government was regarded as having a role in facilitating the improvement of knowledge and expertise (as recognised in the comments on Issues 1 and 2). A participant at the Alexandra public meeting cautioned that there is a lack of detailed knowledge of water systems at the regional level and that it could be worse if decisions are made at the national level.

A participant at the Dunedin meeting also questioned whether the necessary expertise in land management was available locally and suggested that expertise in land and water resource management has been lost at all levels of government. The participant stated that central government needs to lead by example to resolve this issue. Likewise, it was noted by a participant at the Invercargill meeting that there is a need for different kinds of knowledge and expertise across all sectors.

Participants commented on the effectiveness of regional plans and whether central government had a role in improving plans. One participant at the Invercargill meeting felt that regional water plans are often toothless and not enough enforcement action is taken.

Similarly, one participant at the Blenheim meeting stated that regional plans take a long time to be developed and implemented and are not given the appropriate power to be effective.

One participant at the Alexandra meeting suggested that where regional councils have not developed water plans, it would be better for central government to require them to develop plans rather than introduce more controls.

Participants at the Christchurch and Dunedin meetings commented on the lack of integration in water resource management. Suggestions were made for the formation of a new government department to manage water issues on a whole-of-catchment basis. One participant at the Nelson public meeting questioned whether central government should consider looking at establishing a central water control agency.

Auditing/monitoring of local government by central government

One participant at the Dunedin meeting commented that central government involvement should focus on a process for auditing council performance. A functional audit of regional councils could be carried out which compares each council's performance in implementing the Resource Management Act. This issue was also raised at the Whangarei meeting by a participant who questioned who monitors the performance of regional councils. One participant at the Alexandra meeting suggested that central government should have a monitoring and mentoring role.

Some participants raised concern at a number of public meetings about the proposed alternative approach in the discussion document for central government to take responsibility for approving regional plans. One submitter at the Nelson meeting felt that central government may need to speed up the process for developing regional plans, perhaps by simplifying the Resource Management Act.

Whole of government submissions

Feedback on the proposal for whole of government submissions varied from full support to concern that the individual views of government departments would be overridden. One participant at the Timaru meeting expressed full support stating:

Government departments should work together to develop one view into submissions. (Timaru)

A participant at the Dunedin meeting held an alternative view by commenting that whole of government submissions should have the same status as local submissions:

There is no problem with the development of a coherent cross-government view in submissions, but it should stop short of government intervention. It should only have the same status as local submissions. (Dunedin)

Another participant noted that while a whole of government position may be difficult to achieve due to the individual mandate of each department, it would be worth attempting. However, several participants expressed concern that only the strongest voice would be heard rather than each of the different views. A participant at the Nelson meeting stated:

Whole of government submissions could hide the clear roles of government departments. It is a good idea to have separate departments lodging submissions. (Nelson)

Providing guidance and sharing information

Most participants supported increasing central government participation in regional planning through guidance and sharing information. Participants at the Hamilton and Taupo meetings stated that guidance could take the form of leadership and direction to assist local implementation. This view was also shared by participants at the Masterton and Rotorua meetings:

Central government should provide the assistance and guidance but local decision-making is important to allow regional councils to develop best practice that can be picked up elsewhere. (Masterton)

Central government has a role to provide information to enable people to make their own decisions. (Rotorua)

Central government having a role in providing information was supported at several meetings. Participants at the Christchurch meeting felt that more leadership was needed to assist locals in understanding options and issues, while in Timaru participants stated there was a need for more expertise at the local government level.

One participant at the Nelson meeting raised the need for catchment-specific solutions supported by central government which should include improved information to keep up with the rates of change in water use and water quality.

At the Whangarei meeting, a participant commented that scientific statistical information is needed to establish low flows. The participant regarded the establishment of low flows to be the role of regional councils and until they are established everyone will be fighting for water.

Action 5: Increase central government's support for local government

Participants widely supported this action, particularly if support is extended to include funding. Support for science, research and dissemination of information was regarded as highly important at the meetings. Solutions need to be based on knowledge, information and research, and central government should show leadership in this area. There was strong support to investigate options for water storage as a solution and a call for government investment in this area. Overall, central government was regarded as having a role in providing facilitation and support rather than making decisions about local issues.

On participant at the Palmerston North meeting stated that there is a need for support for local government decision-making:

Decision-making skills in local government should be supported by science and research, provision of information, expertise and retention. (Palmerston North)

Funding by central government was generally viewed as essential in order to achieve local results. This view was reflected in the following comment by a participant at the Blenheim meeting:

We want to run our own province but with government funding. Every province has its own problems and can deal with them in their own way. (Blenheim)

Further comments made by participants regarding Action 5 fell into the following subject areas:

  • funding for storage and infrastructure
  • funding for science, research and implementation
  • development and dissemination of best practice
  • strategic planning for water.

Funding for storage and infrastructure

Participants raised the issue of funding for water storage and infrastructure at all of the public meetings. In particular, central government was regarded as having a key role in providing funding and leadership.

At the Nelson and Invercargill meetings participants raised the need for central government to subsidise farmers to develop dams so that the whole country could benefit from their production. Similarly, a participant at the Nelson meeting commented that it is essential for central government to take leadership in this area as investment in storage will not happen if left to individual farmers.

While the general view was that central government should take the lead in providing funding for infrastructure, a participant at the Dunedin meeting raised the need for central and local government to come together to address the issue of infrastructure.

Funding for science, research and implementation

Participants regarded research, science and expertise as important at all levels of government. In particular, central government was regarded as having a role in funding science and research to increase the understanding of water systems.

Participants at the Hamilton and Greymouth meetings noted the importance of wetland management. Participants felt that research was required to assist in understanding wetland systems. A submitter at the Hamilton meeting commented that wetlands have not been managed since the introduction of the Resource Management Act and that not enough emphasis was given to wetlands in the discussion document.

The issue of inadequate rating bases and its impact on a region's ability to obtain expert information arose at the Greymouth, Gisborne and Dunedin meetings. Concerns were raised as to whether the cost of implementing new measures was going to be addressed. Participants felt that regions with fewer resources will have difficulty implementing national policies and that central government should have a role in providing funding.

Funding for implementation was further reiterated at the Taupo and Rotorua meetings where some participants felt that if central government is serious about developing national standards and values, then there is a need for this to be accompanied by funding for implementation.

[We should] have national standards/guidelines backed by funding to allow local decision making. (Rotorua)

However, one participant at Whangarei meeting stated that the cost of sustainable development has to be fairly allocated between central and local government. A similar view was expressed by a participant at the New Plymouth meeting who felt that responsibility and information for environmental management should be shared.

Participants at the Whangarei and New Plymouth meetings suggested encouraging riparian planting by providing funding. Participants also suggested that funding for fencing and scientific expertise to assist in the development of national guidelines for flushing water ways to remove sediment would be useful.

Other areas for central government involvement included:

  • providing resources to address the lack of scientific information in the areas of monitoring water quality, flows and ecology to find out where the problems are
  • providing funding for regional councils to undertake compliance monitoring to see whether consent conditions are being complied with.

Strategic planning for water

Participants at meeting held in Timaru, Rotorua and Blenheim raised the importance of strategic planning for water. One participant at the Timaru meeting raised concern that there is considerable effort for protection, but insufficient effort for allowing development. The participant suggested that central government should develop a long-term strategic approach to resolve this issue. A participant at the Rotorua meeting cautioned that long-term solutions need to be based on knowledge, information and research, rather than a case-by-case approach.

Greater co-operation and collaboration between central and local government was raised as desirable at some of the meetings:

Central government and local government need to come together to develop national direction; need to develop a common vision across government. (Dunedin)

Some participants at the Christchurch meeting raised the need for a closer relationship between central and local government to avoid duplication in approaches across the country. Central and local government could also improve communication and consultation with stakeholders and communities.

Some participants regarded improved integration between regional, district and city councils as important for managing the impacts of land-use activities on water quality. Participants raised this issue at meetings held in Masterton and Alexandra:

A more integrated approach between district and regional councils is needed to address the links between land-use activities and freshwater. (Masterton)

Development and dissemination of best practice

Participants at all of the meetings regarded the development of best practice guidance as highly important. Participants also expressed the view that central government should provide guidance and research to help develop solutions for water management. Many participants at meetings held in Christchurch and Hamilton held this view. One participant at the Greymouth meeting suggested that a national policy statement may be required to assist with dissemination of best practice.

A participant at the Hamilton meeting felt that best practice should be disseminated wider than water users:

Broader dissemination of best practice is required, not only to the industrial and farming sectors but also to the sectors which support these such as the financial sector. (Hamilton)

One participant at the Timaru meeting stated that dissemination of best practice was one of the most effective ways of changing behaviour.

Participants raised the lack of available scientific data and information at several meetings, and stated that information needs to be made freely available to everyone. A participant at the Rotorua meeting suggested that the current model for science funding prevents the sharing of information. Databases for sharing information were suggested by a participant at the Masterson meeting. Similarly, it was noted by a participant at the Hamilton meeting that research, monitoring and access to data is very important.

One participant at the Hamilton meeting also noted a disparity between scientific knowledge and the way it is applied within councils. At the Whangarei, Christchurch and Blenheim meetings, participants cautioned against re-inventing the wheel regarding research regimes and methodologies. Participants also encouraged the research of overseas examples.

Providing more tools to councils

Action 6: Develop special mechanisms for regional councils

Many participants raised the view that tools for managing freshwater are already available to regional councils under the Resource Management Act, but they need to be implemented more effectively through increased support and funding from central government. Some participants at the Nelson and Invercargill meetings stated that regional councils have not utilised their existing tools for managing quantity and quality issues:

There are already tools in place to protect water bodies and to manage quantity and quality issues, but some water bodies are over-allocated, so the tools are clearly not working. (Nelson)

Progressively constrain existing consents (clawback)

Some participants raised the need for tools for councils to manage over-allocated resources. For example, at the Taupo meeting a participant suggested developing a set of tools to aid allocation decision-making. However, few specific comments were made regarding the use of a tool to allow regional councils to progressively constrain existing consents. One of the few comments made was that this tool would not necessarily be supported because people often regard their resource consents as property rights. One participant at the Nelson meeting expressed this view.

Opportunities for reviewing consents already exist within the Resource Management Act and this was regarded as an appropriate method of managing over-allocated resources by some participants. However, an alternative view was stated by a participant at the Invercargill meeting:

There needs to be provision for cutting back at the time of consent renewal. (Invercargill)

Length of consents

Mixed opinions were expressed on whether the maximum duration of consents should be lengthened or shortened. Participants at the Palmerston North and Gisborne meetings thought that the length of resource consents needed to be shorter. One participant at the Gisborne meeting suggested shortening the 35 year term to five years with review. However, an alternative view was raised at the Timaru meeting, where consent duration was thought to be too short, and needed to be extended beyond 35 years.

Resource rental

Few comments were made on the alternative or complementary approach identified in the discussion document of establishing resource rentals for water. One participant at the Whangarei meeting expressed the view that if allocated water is rented, it should be subject to a new assessment process if the use of the water changes.

Views were also expressed about the privatisation of water and charging for the use of water. Privatising the resource or charging for water was not supported by many participants:

We do not want a charge for water itself. (Christchurch)

Support for water metering

Participants at many of the meetings were supportive of the use of water metering. Support was expressed at meetings held in Whangarei, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Christchurch, Gisborne and Invercargill.

[Having] metering and paying for water increases incentive for efficiency. (Whangarei)

Metering could be used to manage demand. (Palmerston North)

Action 7: Enhance the transfer of allocated water between users

Support for this action was divided. Some participants felt that this action needed more analysis and consideration before definitive comments could be made. Transfer could be appropriate following clearer development of the actual mechanisms of implementation. The key concerns raised by participants for transfer using a market-based approach included potential loss of existing use rights, and the monopolisation of water by wealthy interests.

Specific views in support and opposition

Many participants made suggestions for the systems that would need to be established before transfer of permits could occur. For example, a participant at the Christchurch meeting suggested that technology needs to be developed to allow for a sustainable trading system, as well as a framework for initial allocation. A participant at the Invercargill meeting stated that:

Tradable leases could be allocated annually; trading could occur within an aquifer; the annual recharge of aquifer and surface water volumes would be metered. (Invercargill).

Short-term tradable leases were also raised as an option at the Invercargill meeting.

Some participants commented on the fact that informal trading already takes place in some regions. The Individual Transferable Quota system used to allocate commercial fisheries was raised as an example of how a transferable permit system could work for freshwater. Participants at the Dunedin meeting raised questions about whether a system for transferable permits can be implemented without using a market-based approach.

Some participants raised specific concerns about using a transferable permit system to allocate water and to manage discharges to water. These included the need to recognise and protect instream values before establishing a transfer system. This view was raised by participants at the Whangarei meeting:

Development of market and water rights should only be done once instream values are identified and protected. (Whangarei)

Participants also raised concerns that under a market-based transfer system, water could end up being allocated to the highest bidder. Smaller interests, as well as Māori and community interests could be disadvantaged:

There needs to be restrictions to protect the interests of small players; need to be wary of commercial interests taking over the available water; there needs to be a mechanism in place to provide for iwi interests. (Blenheim)

Protecting existing investments in water permits and water infrastructure was important to many participants. Some expressed concern about the potential for undermining or taking away of existing water user rights if a transferable system is introduced:

Existing consent holders need security and protection. (Timaru)

Some participants raised opposition to any tradable permit system at meetings held in Whangarei and Masterton:

There is no need for trading as regulation can achieve everything you need. (Masterton)

Water should not be a tradable commodity; transfer is a problem. (Whangarei)

Action 8: Develop market mechanisms to manage diffuse discharges

Participants made few comments about this action. The need for further information and analysis on the use of market mechanisms for managing diffuse discharges was raised. Some participants at some meetings discussed the need for limits or standardisation of procedures for application of fertiliser, as well as the use of incentives as alternatives to market instruments.

Specific views

Some participants at the Palmerston North meetings expressed openness to considering the benefits of market mechanisms for managing diffuse discharges:

Nitrogen credits could be traded; this would require nitrogen budgeting. (Palmerston North)

One participant at the Hamilton meeting stated that there was not enough emphasis given in the discussion document to managing nitrate discharges. A suggestion was made for more nitrogen budgets on farms. A lack of analysis on trading discharge permits was also raised as an issue by one participant at the Wellington meeting.

One participant at the Whangarei meeting raised the need for tools to determine whether water quality is actually declining, as well as the need for incentives for riparian planting as an alternative to using market mechanisms.

A concern was raised by one participant at the Taupo meeting that trading discharge permits is an attempt to put an environmental issue on an 'economic footing', which was not regarded as appropriate. Opposition to a system of permits for fertiliser application was expressed by one participant at the Nelson meeting.

Action 9: Set requirements for regional freshwater plans to address key issues and challenges

Participants made few specific comments about this action. Related issues raised included the need for guidance for councils on setting minimum flows, and developing and implementing integrated catchment management.

Specific views

Participants at meetings held in Christchurch, Whangarei and Timaru discussed the option of adopting an integrated catchment management for managing freshwater.

We should take an integrated catchment management approach. (Timaru)

Integrated catchment management could be achieved through developing catchment-scale plans. At the Christchurch meeting participants regarded central government as having a role in determining some of the requirements of catchment management plans. Some participants at the Whangarei meeting supported a requirement for all regional councils to develop soil and water plans.

Some participants raised the need for guidelines and procedures for setting minimum flows and allocation limits, as well information and science for setting the flows and limits:

Methods for setting minimum flows need more science. (New Plymouth)

One participant at the Invercargill meetings raised the need for resources for tools such as Instream Flow Incremental Methodology for setting instream flows:

Tools like Instream Flow Incremental Methodology should be given resources for development. (Invercargill)

Action 11: Enable regional councils to allocate water to priority uses

Many participants raised questions about how allocating water to the highest priority use could be achieved. A general view was that councils should not have to pick 'winners'; however, many participants felt that market tools might not be an appropriate way of allocating water to the highest value use either. Key concerns raised with using a market-based approach were:

  • the need to ensure equitable access to water
  • the idea that wealthier interests could have an advantage over smaller players
  • lack of protection of instream values and community interests in water, linked to the concern that only economic values in water will be recognised if a dollar value is assigned to water.

Some support was expressed for improving the current water allocation system. Some participants recognised the need for more flexibility especially in regions where water bodies are currently over-allocated. Many participants expressed the need for existing users' rights to be recognised. Some participants also thought that placing an economic value on water could improve efficiency of use.

Specific views

Some participants supported the determination of priorities for water at the national level. Participants at the Alexandra the Taupo meetings thought it would be useful to have a process for comparing values for water in addition to defined national priorities:

Central government could develop tools to decide priorities and to help allocation decision-making. (Taupo)

Participants at the Auckland meeting also raised the need to have a process for deciding priority uses. One participant expressed the view that primary producers should come first for the allocation of water. At the Invercargill meeting priority was also regarded as important for those undertaking activities with less environmental impacts.

Participants discussed the different models for allocating water to the highest value. Some participants at meetings held in Alexandra, Timaru, Invercargill and Blenheim regarded the current 'first-in, first-served' model as incapable of allowing water to be allocated to the highest value:

Greater values can miss out under first-in, first-served; good land-use areas could miss out on having water for production because the water is already allocated. (Blenheim)

Some participants regarded the use of market mechanisms to allocate water as appropriate alternatives:

Allocation of water to highest value use should be market based; [we] must use economics for the balance of allocation for any use; [we] need to move water to where it is needed. (Timaru)

Support for a market-based approach to allocate water was also expressed by some participants at the Invercargill meeting:

First-in, first-served is not working, use of market mechanisms could be an option; [we] will get best economic use when [we] charge for water, regional councils could set an allocation limit and users decide how to distribute water. (Invercargill)

The value of water was also raised at some of the meetings. Some participants expressed the view that water should have an economic value and should not be free.

Why is water free? It is valuable and should be paid for by rural and urban users. (Christchurch)

The concerns raised with moving to a market-based approach for allocating water related to equitable access to water and equity of values in water. The need for equity amongst instream and out-of-stream uses and values was raised by participants at all of the meetings. Deciding which use of water is more important was regarded as impossible at the Wellington meeting. The use of auctions and tenders to allocate water and a resulting monetary value on water were concerning to some participants. Participants at the Invercargill, New Plymouth, Taupo and Palmerston North meetings expressed the view that a monetary value on water would not capture the community and environmental values:

A dollar value will not capture all the values; environmental values could be lost sight of. (Invercargill)

Economic tools are not the best for determining community values. (New Plymouth)

Auctions and tenders raise concerns; there is too much emphasis on the economic uses of water. (Taupo)

Participants also raised concerns about the commercialisation of water if a market-based allocation model was introduced. Some participants were concerned that large companies may have an advantage over other stakeholders and non-consumptive interests. Concerns about the highest bidders gaining access to water above other interests were also raised by participants at the Hawkes Bay and Blenheim meetings:

Smaller players could miss out. (Blenheim)

Concerns of Maori were also expressed at the Hamilton meeting about the potential for corporatisation of water and the possibility for the extension of property rights. Some participants thought this idea conflicted with the other proposals in the discussion document for more consultation and involvement with communities. Many participants expressed the view that water must remain in public ownership.

The need to protect existing investments in water was a common theme at most of the meetings. Some participants regarded the current system as offering protection for existing use rights. In some cases, reluctance to move to a new or modified system was linked to concerns about losing existing rights to use water.

First-in, first-served protects existing investments; don't throw the whole system out. (Timaru)

The following additional tools were also suggested:

  • incentives for efficiency of use in rural and urban areas
  • incentives to discourage pollution
  • standardisation of fertiliser application including setting fertiliser limits
  • systems for rain water collection and recycling
  • fencing waterways
  • audit of regional council performance.

Working together

Action 10: Enhance Māori participation

Participants were supportive of the need to build effective relationships with Māori for freshwater management. Resources for participation were regarded as essential for this action to be successful.

Specific views

Participants at the Whangarei meeting regarded raising awareness and understanding of the cultural perspective of water as important, and this could be achieved through education and communication. One participant at the Taupo meeting stated that the way in which values associated with water are identified need to be carefully considered because often Māori values can be 'watered down'. The need to hear Māori views on freshwater and to be able to debate those issues was raised by participants at the Christchurch and Timaru meetings:

Ngai Tahu must be included in the equation; we are a multicultural society and need to understand that and work with it. (Timaru)

Some participants regarded Māori participation as more than consultation and would require significant resources. One participant at the Hamilton meeting raised concern that the current proposals to amend the Resource Management Act will limit Māori participation to iwi only. The comment was made that all Māori agencies need to be resourced to participate and that central government needs to consider why councils have not exercised legislative powers for involving Māori. One participant at the Taupo meeting suggested that a Māori group with representatives from all hapu could provide advice to councillors.

One participant at the Invercargill meeting raised concern that the discussion document does not articulate the relationship between the Crown and Māori.

The document did not show the relationship between the Crown and Māori; there needs to be a good relationship; central government needs to take a leadership role with building relationships with Māori and other groups, people need to be informed and have knowledge of the issues. (Invercargill)

The difficulty for Māori to participate in managing resources where settlements have not been made was also raised at the Blenheim meeting.

An opposing view was raised by one participant at the Alexandra meeting. The participant stated that central government should not be giving Māori 'special treatment' and that Māori participation can delay processes.

Action 12: Raise awareness of freshwater problems and pressures, and promote solutions

Participants expressed widespread support for this action. Improving adverse land-use impacts on water quality was raised by many as a key area in need of further education and information. Guidance on efficiency of water use was also raised by some participants as necessary. The existing educational programmes that councils undertake were recognised; however, central government was regarded as having a role in running nation-wide programmes to prevent duplication among councils.

Specific views

Participants recognised the value of raising awareness of water issues through education campaigns. Central government was regarded by some as having a role in developing national education campaigns which target land-owners, water users, schools and communities.

There needs to be national input to raise awareness and concerns. (Alexandra)

Education is important; [we] need to be proactive about the values of water; [we] need education programmes in schools and communities. (New Plymouth)

Some participants also regarded central government as having a role in providing funding for joint campaigns with local government similar to the 0800 Smokey campaign of the Auckland Regional Council. Central government could also provide assistance for education programmes to prevent local government 'reinventing the wheel' with similar campaigns.

Increased education and awareness-raising for sustainable land-use practices to reduce adverse impacts on water quality was a strong theme at many of the meetings. Participants raised this issue at meetings held in Whangarei, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Greymouth, Blenheim and Nelson.

[We] need a land-use education programme. (Whangarei)

[We] need education and funding around good land-use practices. (Palmerston North)

Some participants at the Greymouth and Hamilton meetings suggested working directly with farmers and land-users. The point was made that sometimes messages do not reach these sectors. Participants at the Greymouth meeting regarded education as an effective alternative to regulation for managing adverse impacts on water quality.

Some participants highlighted the growing awareness of water quality problems. One participant at the Blenheim meeting commented that landowners are aware of water quality problems, with many having already adopted sustainable practices.

Raising awareness of techniques for efficiency of water use and water conservation for rural and urban water users was regarded as important by many participants:

[There is a need for] education on efficiency of use. (Timaru)

There is a need for urban dwellers to understand the reasons for pressure and the impact that economic drivers and urban lifestyles have [on demand for water]. (Rotorua)

Action 13: Collaboration between central and local government, scientists and key stakeholders, on pilot projects to demonstrate and test new water management initiatives

Participants expressed widespread support for this action. Many participants raised the value of communities, sector groups, Maori, local government and central government working together. The Lake Taupo and Lake Rotorua projects were cited as effective examples of government, iwi, the community, and stakeholders working together.

Specific views

Participants generally regarded more collaboration between different agencies and groups as positive, with the exception of a concern raised by one participant at the Hamilton meeting. The participant stated that reaching consensus could result in a loss of diversity of views. The difficulty of reaching a consensus view from the community was also raised by a participant at the Christchurch meeting.

Participants also raised the need for further community and sector group involvement in policy-making. Involving land-owners and communities in developing objectives and solutions for water management was regarded as important. One participant at the Dunedin meeting suggested developing an overarching vision and objectives in partnership with the community and government:

[There is a] need to develop a common vision across government, land-owners must be worked with to find solutions. (Dunedin)

[We] should be working on a cooperative basis; [there] needs to be cooperation and collective agreement to what appropriate approaches there are. (Whangarei)

Community involvement was also regarded as important by many, through revegetation groups, land care groups and catchment initiatives. Funding and assistance was raised as important for these initiatives to continue. Several participants raised the need for support and resources for groups to participate in submission and consultation processes.

Participants at the Dunedin, Timaru and Rotorua meetings raised the need for the science and policy communities to work together to reach consensus on specific water issues. One participant at the Rotorua meeting suggested that resources of the Crown Research Institute should be combined to develop solutions for some freshwater problems such as water quality.