Steps to Plan Change Tuatahi

Steps to Plan Change Tuatahi

In managing freshwater, we’ve already come a long way. We want our waterways to achieve a state of hauora – healthy resilience, where they can take a knock and bounce back.

We know that water quality in many places is poor. We need to address this and work to maintain and improve our waterways - whether it's rivers, lakes, estuaries or groundwater.

The National Objectives Framework in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM 2020) outlines the approach all regional councils must take to manage freshwater in their regions. The framework guides Environment Southland’s Plan Change Tuatahi work programme and requires us to identify visions, values, goals, targets, limits and actions to realise our communities' aspirations.

  • Identifying values for water. Southlanders want to be able to swim, fish, gather mahinga kai and enjoy our freshwater and estuaries, just as our parents and grandparents did before us. Confirming these values and others, was one of the first steps in the process outlined in the NPS-FM. This conversation started in 2019 with the Share Your Wai campaign. Te Ao Marama also led an iwi values engagement process. Find out more here.
  • Objectives. Taking these values, we’ve woven together one set of draft freshwater objectives that describe what we need to achieve to protect the things we value. The objectives describe what hauora, or healthy resilience, would look like in terms of attributes such as water quality and quantity, sediment levels, aquatic life and safe harvest and consumption of mahinga kai. Find out more here. These draft objectives will be finalised as part of Plan Change Tuatahi to the Water and Land Plan.
  • Limits and methods. To achieve the objectives, there has to be limits on the amount of contaminants that can be discharged and the amount of water that can be taken, and timeframes for meeting these limits. The limit setting process will give individual farms and businesses greater clarity about how much they may need to reduce contamination or water use, and over what time period.
  • Regional Forum. The Regional Forum was a community-based group, set up in 2019 to advise Environment Southland’s council and Te Ao Marama board members. Forum members used science, economics, and Ngāi Tahu mātauranga (knowledge) as well as stakeholder and community input to consider the specific policies and on-ground initiatives that will improve Southland’s water and land for generations to come. The forum provided recommendations on the types of limits and methods, and helped inform the plan change alongside other work programmes such as Long-term plans, catchment management and partnership development. Find out more here.
  • Science programme. Environment Southland’s science programme has focused on better understanding our freshwater and estuary challenges and what will be required to address them. We have undertaken some scientific modelling of the contaminants nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and E. coli to better understand the scale of change, or levels of reduction required to achieve our objectives in our lakes, rivers and estuaries. We’ll continue to develop and review the science particularly on sediment. Find out more here.
  • Economic modelling. The Southland Economic Project was set up to develop robust tools to help us understand the impacts of achieving environmental limits. The project has provided reports, datasets and an economic model, which we are now using to provide information for our community discussions and policy development. Find out more here.
  • Monitoring. To track progress in achieving objectives for waterbodies, more monitoring will be added to the existing programme, including incorporating kaupapa Māori monitoring.
  • Hauora plan. Achieving our values and objectives will require a combination of catchment-scale interventions, farm system change, land use change and innovation. To achieve a state of hauora, specific plans for a catchment or a contaminant issue in our waterbodies will be developed to guide actions on the ground. There is no one-size-fits-all remedy, as the amount of change required varies between catchments. The Regional Forum considered the actions, tools and policies that will together make up the plan for achieving hauora in our waterbodies. It provided advice to the council and Te Ao Marama in mid-2022. The whole community – businesses, farms and urban residents – will have to contribute. We want to recognise people who take early action, and avoid any increase in contamination from now.
  • Government relationship. Continuing to build our relationship with the Government is important, as it supports their understanding of the region’s issues, and our ability to meet their increasing expectations for water quality. We have a responsibility to improve water quality for now and future generations and we are focused on working with central Government to ensure we get workable solutions for Southland. We continue to work with Government agencies and other regional councils to ensure we're learning and sharing information. Letter to Ministers (Dec 2020) achieving water quality outcomes in Southland.

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