Weekly column by Kāpiti's Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.

Doesn't it seem like every other day we're receiving yet another major announcement from the Government?

These are challenging times for families, for local businesses, for our health services, and for our whole economy.

All the more reason that it is heartening that last week's significant announcements included good news for environmental care and healing - specifically freshwater.


The Government's announcement of a set of targeted tools to improve the quality of freshwater thankfully comes with a $700 million central government investment commitment, and while we at Wellington Regional Council are still delving into the detail, some of that money is destined to be committed to the Wellington region.

It seems that regional councils will be instrumental in delivering and supporting the Government's "targeted tools" - essential given that the care of our natural environment is at the heart of the work of every regional council.

In my experience everyone in the Kāpiti Coast community supports local councils and government agencies doing more to continue to improve the quality of our local rivers, lakes and streams and the numerous species that live within and beside them.

Of course, over the past two summers we've seen the impact of climate change with the novelty of toxic algae appearing in the Ōtaki and Waikanae rivers - these have come on top of degraded quality of our local streams.

There is much work to do in our smaller waterways.

And while many of the recent announcements have seen fast-moving policy development to respond to the social and economic fallout of post-Covid-19 New Zealand, these freshwater reforms have been in development for some time, and have included the contribution of the main players.

Representatives of iwi, NGOs, local government, and the farming industry collaborated with central government to develop the solutions.

The Government's own statement summarises the nationwide concern: "Population growth and land-use intensification in urban and rural environments are polluting waterways, harming ecosystems and changing our relationship to freshwater. We have lost 90 per cent of our valuable wetlands, 75 per cent of our freshwater fish are endangered and 94 per cent of urban streams and 82 per cent of streams in pastoral areas are not suitable for swimming at least some of the time. Things have to change."

Included in the proposal for the next three years are some particular actions that specifically align to GWRC's planned actions, namely: protecting wetlands, streams and fish passage; increasing the number of farms that have farm management plans; and improving the health of freshwater ecosystem.


These are particular area of work that GWRC does, and which feature highly in the environmental investment bids that we have submitted to the Government so that we can expand on our current programme of activity.