Published: September 10, 2019
Local Government New Zealand’s Regional Sector Water Subgroup is proactively releasing a report assessing some of the potential impacts from the reforms proposed under the Essential Freshwater Package, noting that the research needs to be carefully used and considered.
The Regional Sector Water Subgroup, was one of the four advisory groups that worked with the Ministry of the Environment to inform the development of the reforms. The package was launched as a consultation discussion document last week by Minister for the Environment David Parker and Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor.
“While the Government’s Freshwater discussion document proposes various important interventions to improve freshwater, one very important question raised is whether the proposed Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) and Dissolved Reactive Phosphorus (DRP) standards should apply nationally or on a more targeted basis,” said Vaughan Payne, Chair of the Regional Sector Water Subgroup and Chief Executive of Waikato Regional Council.
“This is a question that needs to be answered because we know that there are multiple factors that affect ecosystem health, the impact of nutrients as a stressor varies considerably around the country, as well as between catchments.”
“On some rivers and streams applying nitrogen and phosphorous limits will not necessarily lead to the improved ecosystem outcomes we want.”
“As regional councils we’re being asked to assess whether nationally uniform bottom lines capture the complexity of the situation and the risk factors faced by New Zealand’s varied freshwater systems.”
“We were always conscious that the submission period on the Essential Freshwater Package would be tight, which is why we commissioned this report ahead of the release. We are very conscious about total wellbeing. Improving environmental outcomes will have economic and community impacts. Our initial work suggests that the economic impacts will be significant and these need to be carefully managed. While this report was still being finalised some details of the report were selectively quoted in the media, and we feel it is important to release it in its full form to more meaningfully inform the public debate.”