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Comment on NZBCSD water management report

Comment on NZBCSD water management report - Hon Trevor Mallard

A report by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development on freshwater management is a constructive and valuable contribution to policy development in this critical area, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"Our government agrees with the council that ensuring that water is allocated effectively, efficiently and sustainably is crucially important for communities around New Zealand, for our quality of life, for the
protection of one of our most precious resources, and also for our economic development.

"The council's ideas for water management are broadly in line with the existing framework provided by the Resource Management Act 1991 and the work carried out under the Sustainable Water Programme of Action.

"A number of measures suggested in the report are already well underway. For example, the report envisages a National Policy Statement setting policy direction, and emphasised the need for metering of water takes and environmental flows.

"The government recently released the proposed National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management for public consultation, legal drafting of the National Environmental Standard for Measurement of Water Takes is in train, and consultation is also underway on the proposed National Environmental Standard on Ecological Flows and Water Levels.

"In addition, many regional councils are well advanced in developing and implementing Integrated Catchment Management Plans (ICMPs), which are sometimes captured in regional water plans. Progress in this area is however variable and some at risk regions are struggling to manage overallocation. There is work underway to address this, including building local government capability.

"Other solutions in the report are new - such as separating rights to access water for abstractive purposes from consents to take and having water use entitlements. This is heading down the track of privatisation of water and creating ownership rights so it can be traded. The Labour-led government would not support such a move as we believe water is owned by all New Zealanders," Trevor Mallard said.

"The proposed "cap and trade" mechanism is already possible under the current regime and is being developed in some areas such as the Waikato and Taupo. Experience to date has demonstrated that these mechanisms need to be customised to fit both the local issue and local needs."

ENDS

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