A major milestone has been reached on the journey to restore and protect the Waikato and Waipa rivers, with development of a broad policy mix framework for improving their health and wellbeing over the next 80 years.
The Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai project’s Collaborative Stakeholder Group (CSG) has recently released a report describing the policies they are developing for the Waikato and Waipa river catchments, and the intent of the policies.
The CSG is due to recommend a proposed change to the Waikato Regional Plan in June this year. They will continue to flesh out the detail and consider and refine a number of areas before then.
View the full report Restoring and protecting our water/Te whakapaipai me te tiaki i ō tātou wai
What’s in the CSG’s report?
Restoring and protecting our water/Te whakapaipai me te tiaki i ō tātou wai includes a range of measures to reduce contaminants entering water, while collecting the necessary information to enable allocation of property-level limits for contaminant discharges in the future. It includes topics the CSG has settled on, as well as others they are still actively considering.
Some of the features of the proposed plan change the CSG has agreed on are outlined below.
Everyone to be part of the solution
Catchment wide targets for water quality will apply to both diffuse (non-point source) and point source discharges.
Restricting stock access to water
Dairy and beef cattle, horses, and farmed deer and pigs would be prevented from entering water bodies.
Limiting major land use change
Change of land use from indigenous vegetation or plantation production forestry to animal farming or cropping, or from drystock to dairying (milking platform) would be limited.
The net land area in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments used for commercial vegetable cropping would be capped at current hectares.
Property management plan options based on land use intensity and risk
Low intensity land use would not require a resource consent.
Any land use above low intensity would have three options available, based on the level of risk present.
Producing a property management plan, and applying for a resource consent
Producing a property management plan, and being part of a certified industry scheme
Meeting risk factors, and not having to apply for a resource consent
Property management plans would have actions with dates attached. Landholders would need to show they are undertaking actions as agreed, and this would be audited.
Preparing for property level contaminant limits
Start collecting information from landholders and undertaking research in this plan change, so that property level limits for nitrogen can be set in the future.
The CSG is still considering and refining a number of areas, including:
enabling provisions for the development of land returned under Te Tiriti O Waitangi settlements and multiple Māori owned land
the outcomes expected from the proposed plan change after 10 to 20 years
prioritising catchments to implement rules requiring property management plans
timeline for implementation and when rules will come into force.