In 2015 the Taranaki Regional Council provided a Draft Plan for targeted informal consultation. Forty-two written submissions were subsequently received. The submissions covered a range of matters and concerns and the Council decided at its meeting of 26 November 2015 to undertake further work and investigations to potentially resolve the issues raised.
Further work and investigations were also required to give effect to the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM), the revised 2017 version, and the associated National Objectives Framework.
This work, comprising ongoing engagement, research, investigations and information gathering, has subsequently been undertaken or is underway to underpin the development of a Proposed Freshwater and Land Management Plan that also meets the requirements of the NPS-FM.
Here is a summary of key activities, with links to relevant reports and other documents.
- In July 2015 the extension to Freshwater Physicochemical monitoring programme was established. This was a response to NPS-FM requirement that the Council ‘identifies a site or sites at which monitoring will be undertaken that are representative for each freshwater management unit’ [Policy CB1(b)]. All freshwater in every region must be incorporated into a Freshwater Management Unit as defined within the NPS-FM. The Council has identified four freshwater management units for the Taranaki region: water bodies of outstanding value; the ring plain, the northern and southern coastal terraces and the eastern hill country. Therefore, two new sites within the eastern hill country were added for the purpose of representativeness of freshwater management units: Waitara River near Tarata in the northern hill country, and the Whenuakura River at State Highway 3, on the southern borders of the hill country.
- In November 2015 the Council's Implementation Programme for the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management was prepared. This document sets out Council’s programmes and activities for giving full effect to the NPS-FM. The preparation and reporting of this document is required when a council cannot fully implement the NPS-FM by 31 December 2015 (all regional councils have subsequently been required to prepare these programmes).
- In October 2016 the council implemented the Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring Programme to meet the requirements of the NPS-FM that councils report on the characteristics of freshwater. Dissolved oxygen is one of six characteristics identified by the NPS-FM as it is useful as an indicator for ecosystem health within waterways. The programme involves the instalment of permanent monitoring stations across the region. The Council has installed and currently monitors 3 stations and additional sites will be added as the programme develops and funding allows. As the programme progresses the data may also be used by the Council to identify potential non-compliant discharges into waterways. The live monitoring data for two sites, Kaupokonui River at Glenn Road and Patea River at Skinner Road, is currently available to the public through the Council website.
- In March 2017 the Taranaki Regional Council Requirements for Good Farm Management was prepared and released. The document sets out directions on freshwater and land management activities that captures community expectations relating to the management of farm dairy effluent, riparian management, wetland protection, forestry, taking gravel, silage pits, stream crossings, dams, culverts, domestic wastewater, spraying, fertiliser application, vegetation clearance and stream modification. The requirements document is based on current and future policy and ensures best farming practices and environmental improvement while the Council continues reviewing its Freshwater and Land Management Plan.
- In April 2017 the Riparian management plan compliance certificate regime was adopted by the Council. The regime sets standards for farmers in order to complete riparian farm management to the satisfaction of the Council. As farmers complete the implementation of their riparian plans a riparian management compliance certificate will be issued for that property if the assessment checklist is satisfied. Since the adoption of the regime the Council has been conducting full farm audits in order to assist farmers to meet the requirements of the Council in order to attain a compliance certificate. Currently, no certificates have been issued and no certificates will be issued until the Water and Land Management Plan review process is concluded.
Council meeting agenda April 2017 [PDF, 2.9 MB] (see Item 9)
- In December 2017 the Council commissioned NIWA to investigate instream health and water quality arising from riparian management activities in Taranaki waterways. The report, Analysis of stream responses to riparian management on the Taranaki ring plain, which was published in March 2018, confirmed the effectiveness of riparian management as a mitigation tool to ensure Taranaki’s generally high water quality can be maintained and enhanced into the future. The study found that the Council’s long-running non-regulatory riparian management programme has led to improved ecological health in the region’s waterways, as well as reduced E.coli levels.
- In March 2018 the Draft Internal Report Incorporating Mātauranga Māori into Council monitoring of freshwater was prepared and adopted. The report provides a brief overview of the successes and challenges that other regional councils have experienced while incorporating Mātauranga Māori into their freshwater planning and monitoring. The report identifies some frameworks and monitoring tools currently being used around the country, as well as indicators from a Māori perspective and a western science view. The report further presents some recommendations for the Council to incorporate Mātauranga Māori into its freshwater planning and monitoring framework as required by the NPS-FM. The internal report has been used to inform the Council and consultation and discussion will occur with iwi in what is a complex area. The regional council sector is also preparing a stocktake report on Mātauranga Māori.
- In March 2018, the Council set Draft regional targets for swimmable rivers and lakes for the Taranaki region. These targets are a NPS-FM requirement and are required to be produced by all councils in order to improve the quality of fresh water so that rivers are suitable for primary contact. Those regions with excessive dairying will not be able to meet the targets which apply all year around, even when there is no swimming due to low temperatures and high flows.
- In June 2018 a Freshwater quantity accounting system was finalised. The spreadsheet based system sets out, for all Taranaki rivers and streams with consented takes, the amount of allocable water, minimum flows and the remaining available water for consumptive uses. The freshwater quantity accounting system is a live document that is updated when water permits are surrendered and/or new permits issued. Hence if you require a pdf copy you need to contact the Consents Manager, Colin McLellan.
- In July 2018 the Council commissioned Dr I Jowett to undertake a review of environmental flow limits and produce a report titled: Review of Minimum Flows and Water Allocation in Taranaki. This study addresses concerns raised by some submitters in relation to appropriate environmental flow limits for Taranaki waterways. The report examines international and national research that has been carried out into the effects of water abstraction and includes methods and principles for setting minimum flows and allocation limits in a revised Freshwater and Land Management Plan. The study is based upon flow data across a sample of Taranaki waterways and provides a range of scenarios for setting minimum flows and allocation limits that would provide various levels of protection addressing fish habitat and the ecological health of rivers and streams.
- In July 2017, NPS Periphyton Monitoring Programme was established to fulfil the requirements of the amended NPS-FM which specified periphyton as one of the compulsory ecosystem health attributes for councils to monitor. Prior to the changes the Council had an existing SEM Periphyton monitoring programme that had been operative since 1996 collecting data at 21 sites around the region, conducted every spring and summer including annual summer chlorophyll-a sampling and reported biannually against existing criteria. The new NPS-FM Periphyton monitoring programme is more rigorous requiring monthly monitoring regime regardless of weather or flow conditions at sites representative of each freshwater management unit, with the additional nutrient sampling to be undertaken concurrently with chlorophyll-a sampling, and more stringent criteria. In August 2018, a guidance document was released by the Ministry for the Environment titled ‘A draft technical guide to the Periphyton Attribute Note’ to help councils with the process set out in the Periphyton Attribute Note in the NPS-FM (amended 2017). The monitoring programme will be ongoing for at least three years (a regulatory requirement) prior to any assessment being available.
Key upcoming activities in 2018-19 and beyond
- Undertake consultation with iwi/hapū to develop a Mātauranga Māori monitoring plan (and revised Freshwater Plan provision) that establishes methods for monitoring Mātauranga Māori in freshwater management units.
- In association with the above, undertake consultation with iw/hapū on Te Mana o Te Wai to be incorporated into a revised Freshwater and Land Management Plan.
- Undertake environmental flow limits workshops with Dr Jowett, iwi/hapū, water users and other stakeholders to determine appropriate environmental flow limits for incorporating into a Proposed Freshwater and Land Management Plan.
- Undertake further consultation with iwi/hapū on the consideration of iwi values, including the identification of cultural sites of significance, in a Proposed Freshwater and Land Management Plan.
- Finalise Regional targets for swimmable rivers and lakes.
- Review and revise the Implementation Programme for the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management: Taranaki Regional Council.
- Complete work on a freshwater quality accounting system that defines and identifies relevant sources of contaminants to be accounted for in each FMU.
- Continue monitoring periphyton to inform a report following the regulatory minimum of at least three years of continuous monitoring.
- Continue work on the Section 32 RMA costs and benefits assessment for the Proposed Freshwater and Land Management Plan.
As noted in the Implementation Plan, the Council aims to notify a proposed Freshwater and Land Management Plan before 2020, subject to the above work programme being completed. Draft Plan provisions are being amended to incorporate the findings of the additional consultation and investigations and to incorporate recent changes to the NPS-FM and National Objectives Framework. Further changes to the NPS-FM are anticipated in 2018/2019. Hopefully, further changes to the NPS-FM will not impact on our programme.
In the meantime, Council continues to work through its consenting process and other successful non-regulatory programmes to achieve improvements in the state of our fresh water. Of particular note are the successes being achieved through treated farm dairy effluent discharges to water being directed to land in most cases, the uptake of riparian fencing and planting on intensively farmed land, and increased wetland and small stream protection. We do not have the pressing environmental issues faced by other regions that requires urgent action and a plan review. Environmental monitoring is showing overall ongoing improvements arising from the above programmes and community action. An example is freshwater ecological monitoring:
We look forward to these improvements continuing into the future.
Electronic copies of all relevant supporting reports including the Draft Freshwater and Land Management Plan can be found on the webpage you are now on. However, in the meantime, if you have any questions or points requiring clarification in relation to the Freshwater and Land Management Plan review process, please do not hesitate to contact Planning Manager Chris Spurdle or the Director - Resource Management, Fred McLay at the Council office.
If you would like to receive updates of this nature in future, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details.
The Taranaki Regional Council’s current Fresh Water and Soil Plans are being merged into a Regional Freshwater and Land Management Plan for Taranaki.
Options for minimum flows & water allocation
The Council commissioned this scientific report analysing environmental impacts of different limits on freshwater flows and allowable water takes. It draws on long-term monitoring data to model the impacts of various flow and allocation limits on fish and invertebrate populations, and on the reliability of supply for water users. A factsheet summarises the report.
A Proposed Freshwater and Land Management Plan will go out for public consultation as soon as reasonably possible.
The Council has already conducted informal, targeted consultation on a Draft Plan, drawing valuable feedback that has highlighted a number of issues where further detailed work and consultation is needed. These issues will potentially have a significant impact on the shaping of the Proposed Plan. They include the setting of limits; inclusion of cultural values; and protection of biodiversity and wetlands.
In addition, the Government is proceeding with major reforms of the Resource Management Act. These create uncertainty and have the potential to have a major impact on the new Plan.
Changes are happening now
On a number of important issues relating to freshwater management, the Council has already clearly signalled its direction of travel. Changes are already taking place:
- Farm dairy effluent treatment and disposal: There is a marked swing towards land-based treatment and disposal of dairy effluent, and away from the discharge of treated effluent into waterways. Land-based systems are regarded as best practice and farmers renewing their effluent consents are already, in most cases, required to move towards such a system. This is the Council’s policy. There is also strong industry support for land-based systems.
- Riparian fencing and planting: The Council’s Riparian Management Programme is being implemented in a substantial way. The Council is confident that this project will be largely completed by the end of the decade. The project aligns with industry requirements, and with the Government’s proposed legislation.
- Protection and enhancement of native biodiversity: The Council has increased the resourcing for its Biodiversity Strategy. It works closely with landowners in successful protection and enhancement programmes targeting key native ecosystems. Working alongside landowners is the key to success.
Draft Freshwater & Land Plan & summary
Draft Freshwater & Land Plan information sheets
Water & Soil plan review discussion papers & technical reports
Analysis of stream responses to riparian management on the Taranaki ring plain
This study, commissioned by the Council and undertaken by NIWA, aimed to assess the relationships between the riparian fencing and planting undertaken in the Riparian Management Programme and stream health and recreational values in Taranaki streams. Overall, the findings of this study indicate that the programne has had beneficial effects on stream health and water quality for human health and recreation in the region.