Auditor-General’s water report backs Govt action

  • Nick Smith

An independent review of four regional councils’ freshwater management supports steps being taken by the Government to improve water quality in New Zealand, Environment Minister Nick Smith says.

“The Government concurs with the Auditor-General's conclusion that while overall water quality in New Zealand rates well internationally, the deterioration in some areas is of concern and needs addressing," Dr Smith said.

“That’s why we have put in place a National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, established the 62-strong Land and Water Forum, doubled fines for farmers who don’t comply with consents, introduced regulations for metering water takes and provided a fivefold increase in funding to clean up our lakes and rivers.

“The review by the Office of the Auditor-General into four regional councils – Waikato Regional Council, Taranaki Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, and Environment Southland – reinforces the critical role regional councils play in freshwater management.

“It backs up the requirement in the Freshwater NPS for robust water quality limits that reflect the natural variation throughout different regions.

“It recommends that regional councils be given guidance material to help them implement the NPS, work which the Environment Ministry is advancing.

“It underlines the need for good monitoring and reporting of our freshwater resources. The Government’s proposed Environmental Reporting Act will strengthen the credibility of New Zealand’s clean, green brand by requiring independent, regular and nationally consistent reporting on the state of our environment, including our waterways.

“This is a good report that provides important guidance on the challenge New Zealand faces over freshwater management.  The Government will progress its recommendations and we urge regional councils to pick up on the improvements in this report."