|Not a member? Sign up now!|
The Otago Regional Council is disappointed that a newly-published guide to the implementation of the government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS) does not clearly reflect the intentions of the Statement itself. The NPS provides for local authorities to develop appropriate local responses to water quality issues.
ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said central government and regional councils had complementary objectives in improving water quality in rivers, lakes, and streams where it is poor.
ORC has been working to implement those objectives and has nearly completed a final round of consultative meetings in which councillors and staff have been discussing the council’s proposed rural water quality policy – Good Water Good Farming – with local water users throughout the Otago region.
This policy includes setting standards for the level of water contaminant that can leave a farm. It also includes conditioned permitted activity rules to encourage farmers to develop their own methods to ensure their farm water is within the standards.
Mr Woodhead said it was disappointing then, to see the implementation guide, which was prepared by officials, undermining this approach by telling councils how to manage water quality, rather than supporting local approaches as identified in the NPS.
ORC director of policy and resource planning Fraser McRae said the guide talked about acknowledging different circumstances across New Zealand, encouraging new approaches, and allowing local authorities to determine appropriate local responses.
However, because the guidelines were largely prescriptive, if implemented they would “constrain, rather than facilitate” innovative methods of addressing water quality in New Zealand.
“It includes presumptions which go beyond the NPS and accordingly, any attempt to implement the guidelines will frustrate this council’s regional water quality management strategy in the future,” Mr McRae said.