4. Improve the efficiency of freshwater allocation and usage within limits and encourage investment in water storage and irrigation

Improving freshwater management is a long-term endeavour, and significant progress is being made. The Land and Water Forum brings together people and organisations with a stake in freshwater and land management to deliver robust advice to inform policy direction.

The primary vehicle for progress in this area is the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. This will give greater transparency to the relevant science, streamline processes, and focus discussions on the values communities want to achieve. Compulsory national values have been established for ecosystem health and human health.

To assist with the transition to the new freshwater management system, central government and councils will work together to develop best practice approaches and guidance for collaborative planning and technical matters.

Our focus is to improve water quality and the efficiency of its allocation by supporting councils, iwi, business and community involvement in freshwater management and increasing the extent and depth of national direction. In addition, we will produce economic and environmental impact studies to promote informed decision about water quality and quantity limits, and management approaches. We will continue to investigate approaches for allocating fresh water to its best value use and address the rights and interests of iwi and hapū in freshwater.

We will also support investment in irrigation infrastructure to improve agricultural productivity improve environmental outcomes, and facilitate export growth.

We are considering a range of options to determine the types of initiatives that will provide the best value for money and leverage from a $100 million fund for restoring key freshwater bodies. The purchase and retirement of farmland is one in a suite of initiatives that could also include other protection or remediation activities. The focus will be to identify what would be the most appropriate solution for each catchment to achieve greater freshwater quality. We also will continue to work with the Iwi Leaders Group to better manage our rivers, lakes and groundwater.

For related information, go to:

• Land and Water Forum
• National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
• Irrigation Acceleration Fund