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FAQ Limit setting

Limit Setting

Q: What is limit setting?

A: Setting limits for freshwater quality and quantity is one of the requirements for all regional councils under the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM). Southland is required to complete the limit-setting process by 2025.

The NPS-FM defines a limit as `the maximum amount of resource use available, which allows a freshwater objective to be met.’ For example, this could be limits on the total amount of water that can be taken out of a freshwater body, or limits on the amount of contaminants that can be discharged into it without compromising the desired outcomes (freshwater objective).

The Draft Guide to Limits under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (amended 2017) sets out more detail about limits and what they are.

By listening to Southlanders’ views about how they value water and what they want for future water resources, we’ll be able to make the best decisions with our communities, businesses and industries, as we work towards setting limits for managing Southland’s freshwater.

However, setting limits and targets for freshwater management is just part of what’s happening in the People, Water and Land programme. We also want to work alongside Southlanders to encourage the best practical actions that will give us healthy water now and in the future.

Q: How does limit setting affect me?

A: Putting in place maximum limits for water resource use is just one tool that will contribute to better management of Southland’s water resources in the future. It is part of a bigger picture of working together to also achieve the practical actions that will improve water quality and build a thriving, resilient Southland. We cannot rely on regulation alone to improve our freshwater—changing how we use our land and water is critical to achieving healthy water for the future.

For some farmers and other landholders, the government requirement to set maximum limits on the amount of water resource use could mean changes in the way land is farmed and looked after. Other businesses and industries may also need to make changes to meet new regulatory requirements.

Changing how we do things is often stressful and we understand that this is likely to be a challenging time. Our aim is to work with our communities to find the best pathway forward to manage Southland’s water resources now and in the future.

Q: Will water quantity and quality be dealt with at the same time?

A: Yes, establishing Southlanders’ values and objectives in relation to freshwater will include considering different types of resource use. Some resource use will relate more to ‘quantity’ i.e. the amount of water taken, while other types of use will relate more to quality.

In the case of water quantity, the concept is relatively simple i.e. water takes, dams or diversions. In the case of water quality, the concept of resource use is much broader. Examples could be the discharge of a contaminant, land use, stocking rates, or restricting access to water for stock.

Q: Will local communities still be able to contribute to the process of setting limits? How?

A: Environment Southland and Te Ao Marama are keen to hear as many views as possible from Southlanders about how they value water and how they want to look after it, so there will be many opportunities for communities to contribute to the limit-setting process.

At key times over the next few years communities will be able to get involved—some are highlighted in the timeline. Opportunities may include coming along to a local community meeting, joining an online conversation, participating in a survey, or sharing ideas with one of the Te Ao Marama and Environment Southland team.

While the regional forum will provide a formal link between Southland communities, Te Ao Marama and Environment Southland, developing options for limit-setting will be an iterative process. That means that the forum will continue talking with and listening to Southland’s communities, businesses and organisations to gather feedback as options are developed.