Shifting the freshwater burden
The Government is shifting the burden of monitoring freshwater onto councils, Forest and Bird says.
The environmental group said the Government’s new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management would make monitoring waterways Auckland Council’s issue.
In February the Government announced amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which Environment Minister Nick Smith said would cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years to implement.
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management would change ’’wadeable’’ to ‘‘swimmable’’ and aimed to have 90 per cent of all lakes and rivers ‘‘swimmable’’ by 2040.
In order to be monitored by the Government a waterway would need to be fed by three or more tributaries and be more than 40 centimetres deep.
A map Forest and Bird released earlier this month showed only one waterway in central Auckland, an underground waterway in Onehunga, would fall under the new policy.
Forest and Bird’s Auckland manager Nick Beveridge said the rest of the waterways would not be covered and would have to be dealt with by Auckland Council.
‘‘The Government’s offloading it onto the council and they might not have the budgets or willpower to do anything about it,’’ Beveridge said.
If a monitored waterway had less than 540 E coli per 100 millilitres of water 80 per cent of the time it would get a tick under the new policy.
Auckland Council’s healthy waters strategy and resilience manager Andrew Chin said the government wasn’t offloading onto the council, but council did expect the new standard would lead to an increase of its monitoring in some areas.
‘‘There will be a drive to improve the water quality,’’ Chin said.
‘‘While the council has a huge responsibility we can’t fix it on our own, we need the community and stakeholders to be on board.’’
Chin said council was in the process of preparing a strategy and he said extensive public consultation would happen next year.
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management is open to public consultation until April 28.
Environment minister Nick Smith says the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management could cost $2 billion.