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National Water Organisation Welcomes Forum Report

Embargoed until midday 22 September 2010

National Water Organisation Welcomes Forum Report

Wellington, 22 September 2010

Water New Zealand supports the recommendations announced today by the Land and Water Forum, says chief executive, Murray Gibb.

“The Forum was asked to make recommendations to improve the management of our fresh water and it has done so. These are in line with Water New Zealand’s view that reform of the current governance system is a top priority in order to achieve a coherent management regime,” he said.

“The recommendation to establish a National Land and Water Commission to provide some central leadership on water matters is a good first step. While not holding statutory powers, the Commission can nonetheless ensure coordination of policy at a central level,” he said.

“Other developed countries have central water agencies, with someone in overall charge of policy. New Zealand by contrast has nine government departments involved in water, plus twelve regionally based, and seventy three locally based regulators. None of these agencies are in overall charge of our water.”

“This three layered governance system involving 94 agencies servicing 4 million people worked when water wasn’t under any pressure. That has now changed, with stresses developing round higher standards, methods of allocation, assimilative capacity and competing demand,” he said.

“It is pleasing to see the Forum come out with a clear path forward for dealing with water quality, one of the top environmental issues concerning New Zealanders. Its recommendation that national objectives be established, setting limits and standards for water quality, which regional councils must implement within defined timelines, is sound.”

“ A coherent governance system for water could not be achieved until iwi claims in regard to the Crown’s legal obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi were properly addressed. Establishing a co-governance arrangement with iwi sitting on the National Land and Water Commission will go some way towards achieving that end.”

“We are also pleased to see the recommendation that there be an investigation into the way urban reticulated water services are managed and organised. Auckland governance reforms will see one water business serving the needs of 1.4 million people, leaving another 66 to each service on average 44,000 customers. This is at odds with trends towards best practice and definitely warrants further investigation.”

New Zealand has an abundance of water by international standards, but despite this we face significant challenges in its management. The Forum has made some concrete recommendations, which, if picked up will go a long way towards dealing with them.”

“As part of the Forum we were pleased to be able to contribute to its discussions, and commend the Government to implement its 53 recommendations,” says Mr Gibb.

Water New Zealand is a large membership organisation focusing on sustainable management and development of the nation’s freshwater resource. It represents interests from across both the public and private sectors.


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