MfE launches Next Steps for Fresh Water consultation

On 20 February the Ministry for the Environment launched the ‘Next Steps for Fresh Water’ consultation document.   The document proposes some piecemeal changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, a new Regulation addressing stock access to waterways, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and other new water related measures, the mechanisms for which are not always specified, but could range from changes to the RMA through to non-statutory industry standards and other guidance.

The key measures on which feedback is sought in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPSFM) include:

  • What should Objective A2 mean, when it says that water quality ‘overall’ must be ‘maintained or improved’?
  • Should the Macro invertebrate Community Index be used as a mandatory measure of water quality?
  • Should there be a requirement for more information and evidence from councils and infrastructure owners, before an exception to meeting the national bottom line is made for significant infrastructure?
  • How can the management of the water quality of intermittently closing and opening lakes and lagoons be improved?
  • How should iwi rights and interests in freshwater be better reflected in the NPS?
  • How can regional councils be required to better recognize iwi and hapÅ« relationships with freshwater bodies?

In respect of the proposed Regulation, should there be a national regulation excluding stock from water bodies, and if so, what should it address, particularly in terms of what types of stock; timeframes; penalties; and other enforcement mechanisms?

In respect of other measures, the document seeks feedback on the following mix of proposals:

  • What technical efficiency and good management practice standards could be applied to allocation of water and management of discharges to improve performance?  How should they be developed and applied?  If such standards are not effective, what other measures would assist?
  • Can transfer of water permits to more efficient, higher value uses be better enabled?
  • Should councils be able to recover more costs from water users to fund better monitoring, science, management and enforcements, and if so, how?
  • Should the RMA be reformed to enable new ROHE based agreements iwi and councils for natural resource management, and if so, how?
  • Should part 9 of the RMA on water conservation orders be amended to give more weight to iwi needs, and to make the application process subservient to regional planning processes?
  • What support could the Ministry provide councils and iwi to help resource effective engagement and collaborative planning?
  • Should funding be provided to provide safe drinking water for marae and papakāinga?
  • Should the fund set up in 2014 to buy and retire land next to important waterways be broadened in its focus to fund irrigation schemes that help water users move to meeting environmental limits faster?  What should the criteria for the proposed ‘Freshwater Improvement Fund’ be?

Responding to the Ministry’s latest public consultation, RMLA President Maree Baker-Galloway notes: ‘This document proposes another set of stepping stones along the difficult path of what is an important and complex area of challenges for New Zealand.  I urge RMLA members to look at the proposals carefully, as there will be a range of views as to whether each proposal improves matters, or not, and whether they go far enough.’

To view the consultation document, please click here or visit the following URL:


The closing date for submissions is: 5.00pm, Friday 22 April 2016.

An online submission tool is available here, or copy and paste the following URL into your browser:



For media enquiries, please contact:

Rikki Stancich

Communications and Sponsorship Manager

Tel – 022 369 9116 | E – rikki.stancich@rmla.org.nz

About RMLA:

Founded in 1992, the Resource Management Law Association (RMLA) is the national association for resource management practitioners.  It is a multi-disciplinary membership organisation with over 1100 members including lawyers, planners, environmental managers, scientists, engineers, architects, local authority and central government officers. The RMLA seeks to promote within New Zealand an understanding of resource management law and its implementation; excellence in resource management policy and practice; resource management processes which are legally sound, effective and efficient; and which produce high-quality environmental outcomes.