Environment Canterbury has welcomed the second report from the Land and Water Forum, released on Friday May 18, which aligns well with the collaborative approach being implemented via the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.
“This report from the Land and Water Forum addresses how to deal more effectively with the complex and difficult issues around water management in New Zealand,” said Environment Commissioner Tom Lambie.
“It represents the consensus view from a wide range of organisations on how we can make better progress in water management in New Zealand.
“There is widespread public concern about the state of our waterways and how we are going to facilitate economic and community development while protecting and restoring the health and quality of our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.”
The Land and Water Forum was set up in 2009 and includes around 60 organisations and five iwi – representing a wide range of viewpoints – with an interest in land-use and water management. This includes the agri-business sector, Maori interests, environmentalists, power companies, tourism and recreation, community representatives, as well as central, regional and local government and science and research organisations.
“The approach has been to find what we agree on – and there is a surprising amount – around water management. We have used a collaborative process to develop more detailed recommendations on what needs to be done, following on from the blueprint for water management set out in the Forum’s first report in 2010.
“Every person and organisation involved in the Land and Water Forum has shown an ongoing willingness to engage, a depth of understanding of the viewpoints of others, and a maturity that marks a positive change from how water issues have been dealt with in the past.”
The recommendations of the second report include that water must be managed for the values dear to all New Zealanders. Over time water quality must be maintained and improved, and outstanding water bodies protected.
The Forum also agreed the Government should set bottom lines for water quality across the country, taking into account the different water body types.
“In Canterbury we are well on track to set interim limits for water quality and quantity via a new Land and Water Regional Plan. Setting limits is also a requirement under the Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.
“We are also empowering local communities to set objectives and limits for their catchments via the ten zone committees set up under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, which is a key recommendation in the Forum’s second report.”
The report recommends collaborative processes – such as the Canterbury Water Management Strategy – “because they identify win-wins and produce more enduring outcomes – with community buy-in”.
The Land and Water Forum will now work on how to manage within water quality and quantity limits, including allocation limits. This work will be presented as the Forum’s third report, expected by the end of the year.
“How to manage within limits is the focus for Environment Canterbury,” said Tom Lambie.
“The key to success in managing to limits is how Environment Canterbury is working with the farming community in achieving positive environmental outcomes while retaining the productive capacity of the land.
“We look forward to the continuing work of the Land and Water Forum and congratulate everyone involved for producing a very significant report which will shape the way we deal with water management issues for decades to come.”