In a jointly released initiative, the Minister for the Environment Amy Adams and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy have called for submissions on New Zealand's freshwater management regime. The Government's reform package is set out in a jointly released document 'Freshwater reform 2013 and beyond'.
The reform package is based on, and is consistent with, the work and recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. The Forum's core proposals, collaborative planning and the national objectives framework, are to receive immediate progression in policy development. It is anticipated that the Forum's other recommendations will be developed as part of the Government's longer term reform programme.
Much of the content contained in the document overlaps with the recently released discussion document on wider RMA reform, Improving our Resource Management System
, and will supplement that reform programme. However, this does not water-down the importance of the reform package. The proposed reform package for freshwater management sets out short and medium term reform in the three foundation areas, water planning, freshwater objectives, and freshwater quality and quantity limits.
Broadly speaking, the reform package details:
A proposed optional alternative planning process to Schedule 1 of the RMA for the development of freshwater related regional plans and policy statements with an emphasis on collaboration across the community;
Central government's desire to further direct and guide local authorities through the promulgation of a National Objective Framework containing a set of freshwater values and corresponding minimum standards;
Proposed changes to the current process for Water Conservation Orders; and
Several proposals to amend the system for the management of freshwater quantity and quality to ensure that local authorities obtain the necessary information required for freshwater accounting systems.
The Government is seeking submissions on the proposed freshwater reforms by 8 April 2013. Indications are that decisions are to be made by the middle of this year, in time for the development of a Resource Management Amendment Bill towards the end of the year.