100-plus rivers and lakes to be improved

  • Nick Smith

Freshwater improvement projects covering over 100 rivers and lakes across New Zealand are to receive grants of $44 million from the Government, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The Government has an ambitious plan to improve water quality in our rivers and lakes that involves stronger direction to councils, tighter regulation and funding to support projects. Today we are announcing grants of $44m for 33 projects which, with Council and other contributions, will see $142m invested in over 100 lakes and rivers.”

“The 10 largest water bodies that will benefit from this investment are the Wairoa River in Northland, Lake Whangape in the Waikato, Lake Tarawera in the Bay of Plenty, the Manawatu River and Lake Horowhenua in Manawatu-Whanganui, Lake Onoke in Wellington, the Waimea River in Tasman, the Selwyn River in Canterbury, Lake Wanaka in Otago and Te Waituna lagoon in Southland.

“The priority for this $44m investment has been projects that will contribute towards the Government’s goals of improving the swimmability and ecological health of waterways. It will fund the fencing of waterways from farm animals, planting along streams, development of wetlands, sewage reticulation and water storage to increase minimum flows. There are also initiatives in the package to eradicate water weeds, remove pest fish and to retire marginal land adjacent to waterways.”

The grants are the first tranche of funding from the $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund announced last year. Bids for the fund opened on 23 February, closed on 13 April, were assessed by an independent panel in May with recommendations made to the Minister in July. Funding deeds will be negotiated with the successful applicants following today’s announcement.

The amounts allocated to each region are:

Northland $2,519,223 Tasman $7,000,000
Auckland $1,042,500 Marlborough $519,950
Gisborne $847,450 Canterbury $2,693,586
Bay of Plenty $8,250,000 Otago $375,000
Waikato $1,641,638 Southland $5,000,000
Taranaki $2,000,000 SI Total $15,588,536
Hawkes Bay $3,496,156    
Manawatu-Whanganui $5,843,923 Multi-regional Projects  
Wellington $2,171,625 Arable Research $485,168
NI Total $27,812,515 Beef and Lamb $265,000


“Our Government has been systematically improving the management of freshwater with the 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 earlier this year.”

“We know these improvement projects work from our previous investments. Lake Rotoiti in the North Island and Lake Brunner in the South have markedly improved water quality since similar grants were made from earlier funds. This investment of $44m comes on top of $360m in previous Government commitments and brings this Government’s total investment in improvements to freshwater quality to over $400m.

“We are river by river, lake by lake, improving freshwater quality so New Zealanders can better enjoy our great outdoors,” Dr Smith concluded.