Skip to content

National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management

National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management

Updated 1 July 2019 3:55pm


The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (as amended in August 2017) (NPS-FM) directs all regional councils (including unitary authorities) to set draft regional targets to improve the quality of fresh water so they are suitable for primary contact more often. An information sheet has been prepared to meet this requirement. “Primary contact” includes swimming, and means people’s contact with fresh water that involves immersion in the water. Being suitable for primary contact more often includes improvements in water quality from one state to another (for example, orange to yellow, yellow to green, or green to blue).

All regional councils have worked together to use the best information available to identify:

  • The improvements that will be made to water quality in rivers and lakes in the Wellington region under programmes that are planned or underway
  • When the anticipated water quality improvements will be achieved
  • The likely costs of all interventions, and where these costs will fall

A report prepared by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) for all regional councils on these theoretical improvements and costs, presented region by region, is available here. The assumptions and limitations of the modelling approaches taken are described in the report. 

2019 Programme of time-limited stages for implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (Reviewed Annually)

Regional information for setting draft targets – Ministry for the Environment - full report

Role of the Whaitua Committees

The Whaitua Committees are advisory bodies established by the Wellington Regional Council. They will develop Whaitua Implementation Programmes (WIPs) in an open, communicative and collaborative manner – inclusive of community, partners and stakeholders.

WIPs will contain strategies and actions which will form a Programme of work to implement the NPS-FM within the whaitua. They may include recommendations for both statutory and non-statutory actions/methods.

The following details on the intent and content of the WIP are from the Terms of Reference for Ruamāhanga and Te Awarua-o-Porirua whaitua committees:

Development of the WIP will include, as relevant to each whaitua:

(a) An assessment of region wide objectives contained in the proposed or operative regional plan, as they relate to the whaitua,

(b) Specific whaitua objectives and targets for water quality and quantity outcomes, including setting timeframes and priorities for achieving whaitua or catchment objectives and targets,

(c) Water quality and/or discharge limits, including for sediment, nutrients and other contaminants if appropriate, including setting timeframes and priorities, and management methods, to achieve freshwater and coastal objectives,

(d) Identification of mana whenua values and interests in fresh water, and how these might be reflected in the regional plan,

(e) An assessment of, and recommendations to alter, existing water allocation limits, to achieve identified objectives for the whaitua,

(f) Programmes or activities that will support or contribute to the achievement of the established objectives for water quality and quantity outcomes, including such tools as environmental accords and post-settlement arrangements and,

(g) Opportunities for the active integration of existing Programmes and plans to achieve the objectives and targets for water quality and quantity outcomes.

In developing WIPs, the following matters will also be considered, as appropriate, in each whaitua:

(a) Identification of the land and water issues, challenges, and opportunities for the whaitua,

(b) Identification of a vision of the future of land and water management for the whaitua,

(c) The management of rivers for flood hazard mitigation,

(d) The management of stormwater and wastewater infrastructure,

(e) Priority water allocation and secondary allocation,

(f) Demand supply management for all uses and their implications,

(g) The management of sediment inputs into the harbour,

(h) Interactions between groundwater and surface water, fresh water, land use and coastal environments, and

(i) Significant water use projects, such as irrigation and electricity generation.

Adoption of WIP recommendations by the Wellington Regional Council

On receiving each WIP, the Wellington Regional Council will:

  • Undertake a plan change or (or variation) to the Proposed Natural Resources Plan (PNRP) in order to incorporate regulatory recommendations of the WIP. The PNRP contains chapters for each whaitua in anticipation of whaitua-specific plan changes. Upon any such plan change, both the relevant region-wide provisions of the PNRP and the adopted whaitua-specific provisions apply to activities undertaken within the whaitua.
  • Implement non-regulatory recommendations of the WIP, including seeking funding through the next Long Term Plan process.
  • For any requirements of the NPS-FM that the WIP does not fulfil, and which the Whaitua Committee is unable to produce recommendations on, develop and notify any necessary changes to the PNRP.

Other actions to implement the NPS-FM

As well as the requirements to implement policy CA2 and set freshwater objectives for all fresh water in the Wellington Region, the NPS-FM contains other directions for which the Wellington Regional Council will develop work Programmes in order to implement. These are to:

  • Develop a freshwater accounting system for water quantity and water quality by 1 August 2016, in accordance with NPS-FM Policy CC1, and
  • Develop and implement a monitoring plan to monitor progress towards any freshwater objectives set for the Wellington Region, in accordance with NPS-FM Policy CB1.