The Government’s new national water policy statement reinforces work already underway in the Waikato to improve water quality in the region’s rivers, lakes and streams, says Waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley.
“The new Government requirement for regional councils to set minimum water quality and river flow standards has already started through such measures as the Variation 6 water allocation policy, Variation 5 to protect Lake Taupo and planned policy development. We have also recently established a special land and water sub-committee to consider policy issues relevant to water.
“The government’s new policy also supports the co-governance arrangements for the Waikato River involving iwi and the Crown.
“So in the Waikato region generally we have already made a good start on achieving the types of water quality objectives that the Government is pursuing through its new water policy statement released yesterday.
“However, the council will still have a lot of work to do in terms of ensuring its various policies and plans are aligned over time with the new national policy statement which takes effect on 1 July.
“We will continue to work closely with all parties to make improvements as required. We strongly encourage the public to have their say on how the future management of water should be carried out in the Waikato,” said Mr Buckley.
He said the new national policy statement is a vote of confidence in regional councils as the community’s democratically elected custodians of water, in the prime position to apply the new national directions to suit local conditions.
Under the national policy statement, regional councils will be able to phase in changes.
“The Government has acknowledged that regions and, indeed, catchments within regions, each have specific water management issues that need to be individually addressed. These provisions are welcome because water management is complex.”