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New freshwater policies for Canterbury

Tommy Flavill
Waimakariri Drone
Waimakariri River  ECan (Supplied)

New rules to protect and restore New Zealand's freshwater passed into law on August 5.

Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor welcomed the gazetting of the new national direction freshwater management.

"These regulations deliver on the government's commitment to stop further degradation, show material improvements within five years, and restore our waterways to health within a generation," David Parker said.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) council chairperson Jenny Hughey said this step was the culmination of a long period of effort put in by the government and many others.

Hughey said the policies needed to be implemented immediately because the National Standard would become law on September 3 although time frames in terms of the impact of particular measures on the community may vary.

"Our communities, particularly our farmers, have contributed to and engaged on freshwater issues for a long time," Hughey said.

Significant policies that now have legal backing include:

  • Getting higher health standards at swimming sports
  • Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up
  • New protections for urban streams.

The new national direction complements the government's $1.1 billion "jobs for nature" package in the 2020 budget. Last Month, Prime minster Jacinda Ardern announced 23 projects to be funded from this programme.

ECan's 10 water zone committees have been working on catchment-specific approaches towards improved water quality.

"In Canterbury, we are well on the way towards achieving what the government is asking, but there is still much to do," Hughey said.