Significant changes proposed to freshwater management

05/09/2019 2:06pm

Nelson City Council welcomes the Government’s announcement today that it proposes to change some of the provisions that protect our freshwater; rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.

The changes are consistent with the goals of Nelson City Council’s Healthy Streams programme, which includes the award-winning Project Maitai/Mahitahi.

Presented in the Action for Healthy Waterways discussion document, the Government’s proposed changes will create a new overall framework around freshwater ecosystem health. 

This framework, if adopted, will be used by councils across New Zealand to review their existing policies and activities around the management and protection of freshwater to further protect and sustainably manage this precious resource.

Thanks to the foresight and hard work of our community groups, individuals and land managers, Nelson has performed well in national Freshwater Standards monitoring. Although Nelson’s Healthy Streams project has seen significant gains, there is more that can be done to uphold Te Mana o te Wai, a concept that refers to the integrated health and wellbeing of water as a continuum from the mountains to the sea.

Mayor Rachel Reese welcomed the focus on improving environmental standards, “Water quality and environmental health are key areas of importance to our community. If adopted the new provisions will give Council the ability to better support those that manage freshwater as it flows from our mountains to the sea. 

Many are already doing great work to enhance Nelson’s rivers and streams, and we will look forward to our waterways continuing to improve into the future.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a dedicated and supportive community that helps us achieve our freshwater goals, through projects such as Wakapuaka Bursting into Life, Project Maitai/Mahitahi and Te Wairepo/York Stream.”

Friends of the Maitai spokesperson Steve Gray says that they are glad to be a partner with Council, helping us better understand the river. 

“Nelson City Council has taken the lead in removing fish barriers, and we’ve partnered with them in helping restore a wetland, and improving the riparian zone around the main river. 

We’re pleased Council is facilitating a discussion among key stakeholders (Iwi, plantation forestry harvesters, Friends of the Maitai and Cawthron) on how to reduce sediment due to forestry harvesting. We’re hoping concrete suggestions are adopted out of this forum,” Steve says.

Everyone is encouraged to have their say on the proposed changes with a public meeting scheduled to take place in Nelson on Monday 16 September 2019 between 5.30pm and 7.30pm. 

Submissions can be made online at

The consultation document describes the purpose, options being considered and why, and asks specific questions you may wish to answer. It also has more information on the submission process.

The publication of the Action for Healthy Waterways discussion document corresponds with several other proposals the Government will be consulting on over the coming weeks that include urban development, highly productive soils, and product stewardship.

Anyone interested in learning more about how our community is working together to improve and protect the water quality in Nelson’s rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands can find a playlist of project overview videos here.