Hawke's Bay Regional Council plans to invest more than $40 million in its Long Term Plan to support stronger action on freshwater, including science, planning, and community engagement on a region-wide freshwater plan.
The announcment follows an update from national LAWA, which paints a picture of impaired health for the majority of monitored river sites in Hawke's Bay and across New Zealand.
The release coincides with World Rivers Day 2021 on 25 September.
The overall patterns for New Zealand are consistent with what we see in Hawke's Bay, says council team leader for fresh water and ecology, Dr Andy Hicks.
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"Urban waterways are generally the poorest performing, followed by rural," Hicks said.
"[The] council monitors over 90 river sites around the region, which shows us where work needs to be done to improve our waterways. The overall patterns are already well established, however, and show that the poorest river health is linked to higher levels of catchment modification and land use intensification."
Council chief executive James Palmer says over the next three years councils across Aotearoa New Zealand will be working with communities to develop plans that maintain or, where degraded, improve the state of freshwater.
"World Rivers Day raises awareness of the state and value of our waterways, and the threats they face to encourage improved stewardship. Here in Aotearoa, we care deeply about the health of our waterways, and the data released by the LAWA project further reinforces how much work lies ahead to restore our rivers," said Palmer.
"The council has increased operating expenditure in its new Long Term Plan to support stronger action on freshwater, including science, planning, and community engagement on a region-wide freshwater plan.
"There will be greater compliance monitoring of new freshwater regulations, and more funding to protect threatened regional biodiversity. We're investing more than $40 million in this long term plan, alongside landowners, on work on the ground to improve water quality. A total of 23 new staff are funded this year to increase the service delivery for the Hawke's Bay's environment. This includes two new catchment coordinator roles to work with our urban communities in restoring the Karamu and Ahuriri catchments," says Palmer.
The new national policy statement for freshwater (NPS-FM 2020) requires every regional and unitary council, alongside its community, to develop a comprehensive plan to maintain or improve the state of freshwater. Several compulsory measures for the state of a river have to be met, and communities can choose to go above and beyond these.