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Managing water effects of intensive land use

March 27, 2008

Managing the water quality effects of intensive land use

Today, Environment Canterbury councillors approved work on a variation to the Proposed Natural Resources Regional Plan (PNRRP) that will enable the water quality effects of intensive land use to be managed more effectively.

Intensified rural land use occurs where there has been a marked increase in agricultural productivity, such as dairying or cropping on the Canterbury Plains or wine production in the Waipara catchment. Increasing public awareness and concern about this issue is reflected in the many submissions on the water quality chapter of the PNRRP.

“Environment Canterbury has listened to community views on whether the Plan in its current form provides sufficient protection for Canterbury’s water and this is a major step in addressing those concerns,” says Environment Canterbury Chair, Sir Kerry Burke.

“Over the past twenty years, land uses have become more intensive, particularly in rural areas and that trend is expected to continue. Coinciding with this change, there is increasing evidence that the region’s freshwater resources are nutrient enriched as a result of diffuse sources, such as fertilizer application and stock effluent. Various studies predict that unless managed effectively, the expansion of irrigation could result in more nutrients reaching groundwater, lakes and streams.”

The variation is likely to focus on:
- Restructuring the policies that address the effects of diffuse discharges;
- Better management of loss of nutrients under irrigation;
- Reviewing the approach to managing stock access to rivers and lakes;
- Revision of the schedule that lists lakes and rivers commonly used for contact recreation.

The work is to be undertaken this year. Council will consider a draft and then undertake further community consultation before the changes are adopted.

“Environment Canterbury recognises the need for urgent action and is committed to taking on water management’s tough issues. It is clear that the community endorses more substantial protection for our iconic lakes and rivers and that a mechanism is needed to improve water quality where it is poorer than it should be. This plan change will provide the means to protect and improve our water into the future.”


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