In March 2013, the Government announced proposals to improve the way we manage fresh water in New Zealand. The document ‘Freshwater reform 2013 and beyond' outlines measures that will be taken immediately, and signals reforms that will be progressed over time.
By international standards, fresh water in New Zealand is both abundant and clean. We have plenty of rain which replenishes our streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater, but it does not always fall where and when we need it. While water is a replenishable resource, it is not unlimited. Because of the growing demands created by a growing population and land intensification, water quality in New Zealand varies considerably. In some areas water shortages can be felt at certain times of the year.
The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) is the key legislation governing the management of New Zealand’s freshwater resources. Under the RMA, regional and unitary councils are responsible for making decisions on the allocation and use of water within their boundaries and for managing water quality. Central government can guide and direct regional councils under the RMA using tools such as national policy statements and national environmental standards.
The Ministry works with other agencies to support local government’s role, as well as providing national direction to achieve the sustainable use of New Zealand’s water resources.
This section of the website provides information on fresh water including:
Last updated: 9 March 2013