RMLA Submission on the Proposed Amendments to the National Policy Statement Freshwater Management

On February 23, the New Zealand Government launched a consultation on its proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPSFM).

Due to the diversity of views held by RMLA members, the RMLA’s primary focus is that the proposed amendments are consistent with the general framework of existing laws, regulations and policies of relevance, and work alongside the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA“) where relevant, including within the context of the NPSFM as it stands (as well as regional plan frameworks that have been promulgated to date to give effect to the NPSFM).

To this end, the RMLA has made a submission suggesting several amendments to the wording of the proposed amendments in 5 key areas. These include: Overall quality of fresh water; Contact with fresh water; the definition relating to the new requirement for “suitable for immersion more often”; Monitoring of bathing season; and Progressive implementation.

The RMLA notes that with regard to the objective of ‘Overall quality of fresh water’ greater clarity would be achieved by changing the wording slightly to relate to a ‘freshwater unit’, rather than a ‘region’.

In terms of ‘contact with Fresh water’, in its current wording there is a lack of clarity and consistency about whether the proposed amendments are intended to protect human health associated with recreational immersion only, or human health associated with immersion generally. To address this, RMLA recommends that the definition of “contact with freshwater” be amended to remove the word ‘recreation’ altogether.

To ensure that the target of making lakes and rivers “suitable for immersion more often” is achieved, the RMLA proposes that the wording be amended so that the target is not just “suitable for immersion more often” but is tied to achieving the stated goal in the consultation document of making 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040, as set out in the new policy A5.

In its current form, it is not clear how the monitoring and reporting requirements relate to and overlap with the general requirement under section 35 of the RMA for Councils to gather information, monitor and keep records. In this respect, the RMLA advises to amend, and make more specific proposed policy CB2 in terms of reporting and making information available, to give councils more clarity and certainty about how regular reporting is required, and the corresponding relationship with the more general reporting requirements imposed by section 35 (2A).

With regards to progressive implementation, Policy E1 has been amended so that it is clear that policy E1 regarding implementation applies to both the objectives and policies of the national policy statement is acceptable. RMLA supports the certainty that comes with the proposed amendment, and recommends that it be implemented.  The RMLA also supports the clarity that comes with the amendment to the objective of ‘Overall quality of fresh water’ changing the wording to require overall quality of each ‘freshwater unit’ be maintained or improved, rather than reference to a ‘region’.

To read the full submission please click here or visit:

Related articles