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Ensuring healthy water – national standard

20 March, 2008

Trevor Mallard

Ensuring healthy water – national environmental standard

A proposed national environmental standard on ecological flows and water levels will help look after New Zealand's freshwater resources, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

The standard, which is out for public discussion on March 29, aims to promote consistency across the country in decisions-making to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of water flowing in water bodies.

"Today is World Water Day and an opportunity to think about ways to take care of our water resources. There are increasing demands on water and we need to make sure it is managed in a sustainable way," Trevor Mallard said.

"The Labour-led government realises that we must look after the health of our rivers, lakes, groundwater systems and wetlands. The proposed standard, which will act like a regulation, will help us to do this by ensuring greater consistency in the way demands on water are managed,” Trevor Mallard said.

"If the levels of rivers, groundwater systems, lakes and wetlands run too low it can put fish and plant life at risk and make them less enjoyable for us.

"The standard proposes that regional councils put in place processes to asses the effects of taking an amount of water from rivers, lakes or groundwater systems. This will ensure ecosystems that are vital for a healthy water body can be maintained.

"It also proposes that interim limits be imposed for regional plans which do not already place limits on the alteration to flows and water levels.

"The proposal has been developed in response to a key challenge in water management identified by regional councils and others. It is part of the Labour-led government's Sustainable Water Programme of Action.

"Stakeholders have played a very important role in this programme. The government has been working with councils and many others to address any barriers to managing fresh water. We look forward to feedback on the proposed standard," Trevor Mallard said.

The discussion document on the proposed National Environmental Standard on Ecological Flows and Water Levels is available on www.mfe.govt.nz, and the ministry will seek public submissions beginning on Saturday 29 March.


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