Water quality has consistently been identified as the top issue for the Waikato region for the past two decades. Contaminants are rising in our waterways and we need to tackle these issues now to ensure the health of our rivers in the future.
The review will address the issue of water quality within the Waihou and Piako river catchments and the Coromandel Peninsula. While the Waikato and Waipā river catchments are currently the priority for the Waikato Regional Council, and the focus of the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora Plan Change 1, the Waihou and Piako river catchments and Coromandel Peninsula will be reviewed next. A programme of work for this is yet to be developed.
Waikato Regional Council, along with NIWA, have started some preliminary scientific work including groundwater investigations and E.coli modelling that will help inform the review, however commencement of the policy work will begin once the Hauraki Treaty Settlement is finalised. This legislation is expected to go through in late 2018/19.
The intention is for the review to merge with the timeline for the Coastal and Regional Plan Review – Healthy Environments – He Taiao Mauriora Project, the timeline of which is still being refined. At this stage, depending on Treaty legislation timeframes, we anticipate that the Hauraki/Coromandel Plan Change may begin towards the end of 2019.
This review will include the Hauraki area (the full catchments of the Waihou and Piako Rivers), and the Coromandel Peninsula. This area covers both the plains and the peninsula, which both flow into the Firth of Thames.
The approach is yet to be determined and is heavily dependent on the outcome of the Hauraki Treaty Settlement. Therefore, it’s likely that the engagement process will be confirmed following the finalisation of the Treaty settlement. Some information from Plan Change 1 may be transferrable, however the Waihou and Piako river catchments and Coromandel Peninsula are very different to the Waikato and Waipā river catchments in many ways, and they have their own set of issues and challenges.
In recognition of this, the review process will not simply be a repeat of Plan Change 1. Instead, it will be tailored to the needs of stakeholders, taking into account any legislative requirements and available resources.
Similarly, any policies and rules will not simply be a reflection of Plan Change 1, but will be tailored to reflect the different catchments, issues, communities and land uses in the Hauraki/Coromandel area.
At this stage, we expect to begin looking at starting the process in 2019.
This Plan Change will be developed with involvement and participation from the community. This means working together with iwi, stakeholders and landowners to identify issues and test planning concepts. This process will be tailored to meet the needs of stakeholders and legislative requirements.
This review and the resulting Plan Change must give effect to the Regional Policy Statement and to Government direction including, the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management(external link), the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, any Resource Management Act reforms, and Treaty settlement outcomes.
It must also take into account the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act(external link) and will inform the management of the catchments and Hauraki coast.
It will also be informed by Sea Change, the marine spatial plan designed to safeguard the Hauraki Gulf.