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Measuring water takes required for improved mgmt

Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Agriculture
Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister for the Environment

26 February 2008 Media Statement
Embargoed until 10.30am

Measuring water takes required for improved mgmt

A new requirement aimed at boosting the sustainable management of New Zealand's freshwater resource through the use of measurement devices has been approved by the government, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton announced today.

"The National Environmental Standard for Measuring Water Takes was approved by Cabinet yesterday and will now be drafted into regulation," Trevor Mallard told the National Water NZ conference in Auckland today.

"The standard is one of a staged package of actions to improve the sustainable management of New Zealand’s freshwater resources under the Sustainable Water Programme of Action. (see attached fact sheet) This standard will help better water management by ensuring accurate measuring of the amount of water taken from rivers, lakes and aquifers," Trevor Mallard said.

"Measuring actual amounts of water taken is of course critical to understanding and improving the efficiency of water use. Currently, only 31 percent of the volume of water granted to consent holders is measured and we want to see the water taken from rivers, lakes or aquifers consistently measured at source," said Trevor Mallard.

The standard will set minimum requirements for the installation and operation of water measuring and recording devices. It will require consent holders to install and operate water measuring devices and to inform regional authorities about their water use. The standard does not apply to individual households or businesses using water from reticulated supplies, nor to small abstractions for an individual’s drinking or stock-drinking needs.

Jim Anderton said water was a vital resource for agriculture, horticulture, and silviculture.

"We can’t afford to take it for granted anymore. These steps as taken by the Government today will help us to manage this precious resource more carefully, so that there is enough for everyone."

The Cabinet paper relating to this standard is at www.mfe.govt.nz

A fact sheet of government action and initiatives on protecting and conserving and sustainably managing New Zealand's water resources follows.

--


Fact Sheet: Initiatives to protect, manage and conserve New Zealand's water resource
National policy statement (Resource Management Act tool for providing national policy direction)

* National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management under development:
o It will cover water quality and managing increasing demands for water
o Iwi and other stakeholders have been asked to comment by 29 February and a draft National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management will be prepared.
o A Board of Inquiry will then be launched for public consultation on the proposed National Policy Statement.

National environmental standards (regulations) under the Sustainable Water Programme of Action:

* National Environmental Standard for Sources of Human-drinking Water
o It will ensure that activities do not pollute drinking water sources, so that water remains safe for people to drink after existing treatment.

* National Environmental Standard for measurement of water takes
o This standard will help provide more accurate information about water use to improve sustainable management.

* National Environmental Standard for Setting Ecological Flows and Water Levels
o Discussion document due out for public comment shortly.
o This is to promote consistency in the way we decide whether there is sufficient variability and quantity of water flowing in rivers, groundwater systems, lakes and wetlands.

* A discussion document proposing a National Environmental Standard aimed at ensuring on-site waste water (septic) tanks does not contaminate waterways is due out for public comment soon.

Additional Government activity and funding support

* $22 million a year invested in fresh water research through the Foundation of Research Science and Technology

* Committed $36.7 million as its share of a the Lake Taupo Water Quality Protection Programme

* Committed $4 million to the Ohau Channel Diversion Project to improve Lake Rotoiti’s water quality

* Since its inception the Sustainable Farming Fund has provided over $22 million to 30 project teams working on tolls and techniques water to improve water quality management in the primary sectors

* Provided some $2 million to the development of the Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan

* Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change Plan of Action ($175 million over five years) will provide impetus to reducing sediment and nitrogen discharges to water.

* Sanitary Works Subsidy Scheme – providing grants to local communities

* Water efficiency labeling scheme


ENDS

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