Devil in the detail of fresh water management

Key advice from a water report for the Government should be considered, but the devil will be in the detail says the Federated Farmers representative on the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), Chris Allen. 

The LAWF report on preventing water quality degradation and addressing sediment and nitrogen has been released to the Government. The data and 38 recommendations are the culmination of a lot of work from many different groups represented on the Forum, Chris says.

“While there are still a range of views, especially when it comes to nitrogen discharge allowances, the fact is everyone is at the table and working on getting it right.”

The important context for the LAWF report is water quality is starting to turn around in the majority of our catchments. This is due to the immense amount of work farmers, communities and catchment groups have been doing in the last decade.

The 2018 Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) report shows water quality is improving at mores sites than not around New Zealand. “The recent LAWA data shows the environmental efforts of farmers are starting to pay off, but there is still more work to do.”

“Given the range of initiatives underway, and with media attention on water and other environmental concerns, it should come as no surprise how seriously we are all taking water quality issues.” 

Chris agrees some regulatory settings need improvement and “every single citizen, urban and rural, can help by backing catchment based holistic land management practices”.

“This is not just an agricultural issue. No-one in New Zealand is in a position to throw stones when it comes to water quality. Every community has its fair share of glass houses – both urban and rural.”

Advice from the report includes making sure every community has access to national tools which can be adapted to meet standards specific to their needs. There is a recommendation to expand and improve sediment and erosion programmes that are already underway.  There is also a call for action on addressing capability and resourcing gaps, particularly around national water monitoring data.

Recommendations from the report are expected to underpin the Ministry for the Environment’s upcoming work with freshwater.