The Government has confirmed special provisions for areas of Pukekohe and Horowhenua, where the growing of fresh vegetables is critical to national supply.
Councils will be allowed to maintain water quality below some national bottom lines while ensuring that improvements are made. These provisions will expire after 10 years, or earlier if a tailored, legally binding solution for these areas can be reached.
"The Government will be working with councils and relevant iwi and hāpu to achieve this, so that contaminant loads can be reduced and bottom lines met over time, while safeguarding the domestic supply of vegetables. Unquestionably, water quality in these catchments needs to improve substantially," Environment Minister David Parker said.
New rules to protect and restore New Zealand's freshwater passed into law today.
Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor welcomed the gazetting of the new national direction on 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," Parker said.
This includes the new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-FW), stock exclusion regulations, and regulations in the measurement and reporting of water takes.
Significant policies that now have legal backing include:
• Requiring councils to give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai by prioritising the health and wellbeing of our waterways
• Halting further loss of natural wetlands and streams
• Setting higher health standards at swimming spots
• Putting controls on high-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feedlots
• Setting stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health
• Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up and new protections for urban streams
• Preserving and restoring the connectivity of New Zealand fish species' habitats
• Requiring mandatory and enforceable farm environment plans
• Making real-time measuring and reporting of data on water use mandatory.
Some of the new rules will take immediate effect (from September 3), while there is a longer timeframe for others. Supporting the changes is the faster planning process for regional councils to speed up implementation of the NPS-FM, made law in June through the Resource Management Amendment Act.
The new national direction complements the Government's $1.1 billion Jobs for Nature package in the 2020 Budget. Last month, the Prime Minister announced 23 projects to be funded from this programme.
The exempted area has been described in Clause 3.33 as:
1. Lake Horowhenua (Hoki_1a) Water Management Subzone
Whole lake catchment above Lake Horowhenua outlet (at approx. NZTM2000 1789400 5502450). From the lake outlet, crossing Moutere Rd to the northwest, and as far west as the eastern edge of the Waitarere Forest, and as far north as Waitarere Beach Rd. As far east as Gladstone Rd, near Gladstone Reserve, crossing Roslyn Rd, Denton Rd. To the south as far as Tararua Rd, and crossing Kimberley Rd, Buller Rd, Hokio Sand Rd, then north to Lake Horowhenua outlet.
'Exemptions' don't mean pollution is okay now
2. Hoki (Hoki_1b) Water Management Subzone
Hokio Stream catchment downstream of Lake Horowhenua outlet (approx. NZTM2000 1789400 5502450). Extending north to cross the Moutere Rd, north of the bridge that crosses the Hokio Stream, and extending south to south of the landfill off Hokio Beach Rd. Excluding the mainstem of the Hokio Stream from the cross-river Coastal Marine Area boundary at NZTM2000 1784949 5504086, at the western end of Muaupoko St, and seawards.
Clause 3.33 National Policy Statement For Freshwater Management 2020 only applies to this area and says that a regional council must have regard to the importance of the contribution of the specified growing area to:
a. the domestic supply of fresh vegetables; and
b. maintaining food security for New Zealanders.
The regional may set a target attribute state that is below the national bottom line for the attribute, but must still set the target to achieve an improvement and a regional council must ensure that vegetable growers in the area are not exempt from any requirements (such as in limits, action plans, and conditions on resource consents) aimed at achieving target attribute states.
This clause ceases to apply to a specified vegetable growing area 10 years after the commencement date.