While some of Canterbury’s streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater are of high quality and are still largely in their natural state, in some places pressure from rural and urban land-use discharges, and increasing water demand, is placing stress on ground and surface water systems. There is conflict over the allocation of water for abstraction and maintenance or improvement of instream values and water quality. This has implications for ecosystems, business and primary industry, sources of drinking water, health and recreation, e.g. swimming. Safeguarding sources of mahinga kai and protection of wahi tapu and wahi taonga are important issues for tangata whenua and Maori. Environment Canterbury is required to set limits for both environmental flows and water quality.
The regional economy is increasingly dependent on a reliable supply of water, driven by land use intensification and a variable climate.
Land use intensification and discharge of contaminants such as nitrates are affecting Canterbury’s water quality in some areas. Protecting water quality requires a combination of management of urban and rural land use, stormwater, subdivision sediment control, wastewater and septic tanks.
Successful water resource management requires Environment Canterbury to work in partnership with communities. This involves working collaboratively with land occupiers, territorial authorities, Government agencies and community groups to develop solutions to issues. This is underpinned by regulations.
There is a need to integrate management of groundwater, surface water, water quality, water quantity and land use. Otherwise, there is potential for isolated decisions to foreclose on protection or development options that could provide greater benefits to the wider community. The Canterbury Water Management Strategy is an important regional level partnership undertaken on behalf of the Canterbury Mayoral Forum to develop an integrated approach to water management.
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