The NPS Freshwater Management will be amended, with changes taking effect 1 August 2014.  The amended NPS will be issued by notice in the Gazette on 4 July 2014.

The amendments introduce a national objectives framework to help regional councils set freshwater objectives in their regional plans, with national bottom lines being set for ecosystem health and human health for recreation.

The national objectives framework requires that regional councils:

  • Divide water bodies in their region into freshwater management units (FMUs)

  • Identify the values for each FMU, including the two compulsory values (ecosystem health and human health for recreation) and any other values that the council considers appropriate (eg economic or commercial development, mahinga kai)

  • Decide what attribute state (the level to which each measurable characteristic of fresh water is to be managed) is acceptable for each FMU - unless specific exceptions apply, this level must be at or above the minimum bottom lines set in the NPS.  This level becomes the numeric freshwater objective for each FMU.

When establishing freshwater objectives, regional councils must consider several matters including the current state of the FMU, the limits required to achieve each objective and implications for resource users.  They must also account for all water takes and sources of contaminants (freshwater accounting).

The Ministry for the Environment is due to release guidance on:

  • Freshwater accounting

  • Establishing freshwater management units.