The quality and ownership of NZ’s freshwater has become a big issue. Across the board the political parties say we need to do a better job at keeping our rivers and lakes clean. But plans to fix it vary. There is debate, too, about ownership of water, and whether companies, including those based overseas, should pay to use or export it.
Save thisContinue funding projects that improve freshwater management(...)Why
National believes that most of New Zealand’s waterways are in good shape but agricultural and urban development over the past 50 years has put some at risk. It is important to protect lakes and rivers from pollution to enhance the way of life of future generations. Funding projects that improve freshwater management should protect more waterways from pollution so they can be enjoyed more widely.How
National would continue to fund projects that improve freshwater management. This funding would come from a $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund set up by the National Government in 2017 for use over the next decade. The fund is targeted at water bodies that are showing signs of stress but have not yet reached a point where it is very expensive to restore them to good health.
The National Government has already committed an additional $350 million toward freshwater cleanups. Funding is also available for freshwater projects from the Community Environment Fund.
Save thisContinue aiming for 90 per cent of lakes and rivers to be swimmable by 2040(...)Why
National believes that New Zealanders need to be able to swim in rivers or lakes without getting sick but by one measure only 72 per cent of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes are swimmable. Aiming to have 90 per cent of lakes and rivers swimmable is a practical and realistic way to make farming more sustainable without ruining the economy, and should help deem an additional 10,000 km of rivers as swimmable by 2040.How
National would continue to aim for 90 per cent of lakes and rivers to be swimmable by 2040. This target covers rivers over 40cm deep and lakes over 1.5km in perimeter. The standard for ‘swimmable’ is based on the waterway meeting a specified water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, which is in line with European and US definitions.
To achieve this target, National has amended the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management, which directs councils to improve their monitoring of water quality, and has introduced new maps that inform councils and communities about the water quality of lakes and rivers in their areas.
The target is also supported by National’s other water quality policies, such as requiring councils to upgrade water treatment plants and wastewater infrastructure and requiring farmers to exclude livestock from waterways. National estimates achieving this goal will cost $2 billion over the next 23 years.
Save thisContinue to require farmers to exclude livestock from waterways(...)Why
National believes that most of New Zealand’s waterways are in good shape but pollution from livestock, farm run-off and urban development have put some at risk. Farmers have made good progress in recent years in fencing off over 97 per cent of waterways but there is more to be done. Requiring farmers to fence waterways and penalising those who don’t should protect waterways from livestock, reducing river pollution.How
National would continue to require farmers to fence waterways. Since July 2017 farmers have been required to exclude dairy cattle and pigs from most waterways.
The requirement would be expanded in a staged process according to stock type and how steep the land is, and be fully implemented in 2030. If a farmer infringes the requirements, they may be fined up to $2,000 by a local council.
National expects this policy to cost farmers $367 million. This policy is part of National’s plan to achieve its target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040.
Save thisContinue funding regional irrigation infrastructure(...)Why
National believes that a successful primary sector creates jobs, lifts incomes and makes the economy more productive. To succeed, the primary sector needs a reliable water supply for farmers.
Investing in regional irrigation infrastructure should ensure this supply, boosting economic growth, particularly in the regions, and protect the environment by maintaining river flows and recharging groundwater aquifers.How
National would continue to fund private sector regional irrigation projects.
Crown Irrigations Investment, the body that manages the Government’s investments in irrigation, provides secured loans to regional-scale projects that need support to get off the ground. These may include the Waimea community dam near Nelson, the Flaxbourne community Water Project, Hunter Downs Water and the Hurunui water project.
Around $90 million would be provided over the next three years, with an estimated total of $400 million to be invested over time. To be eligible for funding, new irrigation schemes would need to meet stringent environmental standards set by councils and must show they are well governed and have funding from other sources.
Funding for smaller community-scale irrigation schemes is also available through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund.
National estimates this policy could increase exports by as much as $4 billion over the next 10 years.
Save thisCharge for the sale and export of bottled water and develop a charge for all commercial water use(...)Why
The Green Party believes that water is one of the most precious resources but at the moment foreign corporations are selling it and reaping substantial profits. They pay only minimal administration fees for the privilege, while some communities around the country have to boil water before they drink it. Putting a levy on the sale and export of water should ensure this resource is treated fairly.How
The Green Party would put an immediate 10 cent per litre levy on the sale and export of bottled New Zealand water. The levy would only apply to still and carbonated water, and would be applied at the point of manufacture.
Revenue from the levy would be distributed to local councils and mana whenua on a 50/50 basis. Councils would be expected to use this revenue to clean up waterways and to protect drinking water.
The Green Party would also develop a comprehensive charge on all commercial uses of water.
First, the Green Party would prepare a discussion document proposing a system in which regional and unitary authorities have responsibility for charging for water. The proposal would involve revenue from the charge being spent on land and water management schemes to prevent pollution and encourage sustainable land use. Revenue would also be directed to mana whenua in recognition of their rights under te Tiriti o Waitangi.
A working group would then be established to facilitate a nationwide series of meetings and hui around this proposal. The hui would include all people and organisations who wish to be involved, including tangata whenua.
The Green Party expects that the price of water use rights would reflect the economic value of water, rather than merely covering the administrative costs of the charge. The Green Party also expects this discussion process to address whether commercial uses of water that do not actually consume the water, like hydro-electric power generation, would be treated differently.
An interim ban on all new resource consents for water bottling would be imposed until this charge is developed.
Save thisStrengthen safeguards on the quality of drinking water(...)Why
The Green Party believes that no one should have to worry that the water coming from their taps isn’t safe to drink. But current regulations do not do enough to protect drinking water from contamination, especially for the 40 per cent of New Zealanders who rely on aquifers and groundwater for their drinking water. Greater attention needs to be given to how land is used and restoring water supply catchments. Strengthening safeguards on these catchments, including by allowing councils to limit and monitor the amount of contaminants entering aquifers, should ensure more sources of water are safe for drinking.How
The Green Party would strengthen safeguards on drinking water quality by amending the Resource Management Act, the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the National Environmental Standard for Drinking water, as well by restoring funding for the Drinking Water Subsidy Scheme.
The Resource Management Act would be amended to make the water quality of underground water sources like aquifers a matter of national importance, just as rivers, lakes and the coastal environment are. Activities affecting aquifers would either be prohibited or would require resource consent. Mana whenua would also be given greater involvement in council decisions around notification, resource consent applications and enforcement.
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management would be amended to limit land use which risks polluting drinking water and to require councils to set sustainability limits on water takes from aquifers. Councils would also be required to prioritise the protection of drinking water supplies when making decisions on water allocation.
The National Environmental Standard for Drinking Water would be reviewed to assess whether it adequately protects water quality.
The Green Party would also reinstate funding for the Drinking Water Subsidy Scheme. This scheme provides funding to help small communities and marae upgrade their drinking water systems. The Green Party expects this scheme to cost up to $10 million over ten years.
Save thisAim for all lakes and rivers to be swimmable(...)Why
The Green Party believes that rivers and lakes should be safe to swim in but at the moment they’re not because of water pollution from farms, factories, sewage and urban contamination. The National Government’s current targets aim for only 90 per cent of rivers to be swimmable. Developing tougher standards on the level of pollutants should help ensure that all New Zealand rivers can be enjoyed by everyone.How
The Green Party would require that all rivers and lakes are safe for swimming. This policy would would be achieved through a series of steps, including by amending the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management, ending subsidies for large-scale irrigation, and by preventing the establishment of new dairy farms.
Save thisBan new dairy farms(...)Why
The Green Party believes that rivers and lakes should be safe to swim in but at the moment they’re not. Intensive dairy farming is a major cause of this problem. Preventing the establishment of new dairy farms should reduce the effluent getting into waterways, helping making all rivers swimmable.How
The Green Party would put a moratorium on the establishment of new dairy farms. This policy would be accompanied by a range of other measures to reduce pollution caused by livestock, including removing government subsidies for industrial irrigation.
The Green Party would also investigate how to reduce the population of livestock which contribute to poor water quality.
Save thisImpose levy on nitrate pollution to fund sustainable farming practices(...)Why
The Green Party believes that, in order to improve the quality of freshwater in New Zealand, the underlying causes of water pollution need to be addressed. This means acknowledging that farms greatly contribute to freshwater pollution.
Discouraging the use of nitrates should improve water quality, so long as farmers are also supported with the resources to fund improvements to reduce pollution.How
The Green Party would impose a levy on nitrate pollution to fund sustainable farming practices.
The Sustainable Farming Fund would be extended with an extra $20 million every year and a new fund would be created of around $70 million a year called the Transformational Farming Partnership Fund. Landcare Trust funding would be also increased to $16 million over three years.
The Green Party would also allow accelerated depreciation on dairy farm equipment.
Organic farming would be supported by introducing national standards and $5 million of additional funding a year.
The Green Party would fund this investment by implementing a levy on nitrate pollution. This levy would raise $136.5 million in the first year. $20 million of this fund a year would go to freshwater clean-up projects.
Save thisOppose Māori co-governance arrangements for resources like water(...)Why
ACT believes that Treaty settlements should be for cash and resources and should not undermine democratic institutions. But recent changes require local councils to formally consult with iwi regarding the ownership and management of freshwater. ACT believes co-governance arrangements like this are undemocratic because they lock in the iwi structure, which is out of date and inappropriate for a multicultural country in the 21st Century. Co-governance is also liable to corruption and holds up sensible developments.How
ACT would oppose co-governance arrangements, including for water, especially those that require formal consultation with iwi to determine how freshwater is managed.
Save thisEstablish a cap and trade system for commercial water use(...)Why
ACT opposes the scapegoating of irrigation and the dairy industry. Doing so is simplistic and is aimed at punishing New Zealand’s primary industries more than encouraging the sustainable use of resources.
Free markets are essential to good environmental custodianship because they ensure people pay the true costs of pollution. But water rights are currently allocated by regional councils on a first come first served basis and for fixed terms with various conditions attached.
Labour’s proposed tax on commercial water use is also not a good solution because the cost of it will be passed on to consumers and a large part of the revenue from it may go to Māori.
Allowing water rights to be traded should ensure water is put to its most valuable use, protecting the environment without scapegoating farmers.How
ACT would introduce a market-based system for water use rights.
This system would operate in a similar way to the quota management system for fisheries. ACT would allow water use rights to be traded and priced at a market rate. This means that when new land is brought into cultivation, owners could buy access to the water.
The amount of water use rights available would be based on scientific research so that they are not over-allocated. Revenues from the pricing of water would go to local and central government for monitoring and enforcement of the scheme, as well as for improving degraded water quality. The change would be ‘grandfathered’ so that existing water permits would stay with the permit holder until their expiry.
;" class="bgcolor">NZ First
Save thisCharge for the export of bottled water(...)Why
New Zealand First believes that natural resources like water are the common property of New Zealanders. But at the moment foreign-owned companies are exporting it overseas for profit and New Zealand is receiving nothing in return. Charging a royalty on the export of bottled water should ensure that New Zealand, and the regions in particular, share in the wealth of this common resource.How
New Zealand First would amend the Crown Minerals Act to charge a royalty on the export of drinking water. The specific royalty rate would be decided in consultation with the people from the region that the water comes from. At least 25 per cent of the royalties would also go back to that region for infrastructure and regional economic development.
The change is a part of New Zealand First’s broader ‘Royalties for the Regions’ policy, under which 25 per cent of all royalties collected by the Government from enterprises like mining, petroleum and water bottling stay with their region of origin.
Save thisRequire commercial water use to be sustainable(...)Why
New Zealand First believes that New Zealand’s rivers are too polluted as a result of runoff from farms and sewage discharge by councils. The existing rules are not enough to prevent further degradation and unsustainable water use.How
New Zealand First would limit resource consents for commercial uses of water to sustainable uses by reforming the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. This statement sets out objectives for freshwater management under the Resource Management Act. This would be replaced with a National Policy Statement on Water Resources.
The new statement would be consistent with a range of principles, including that water is a common good, that the Treaty of Waitangi does not confer greater or lesser rights on Māori to take or use water, and that the requirements for domestic supply of water must prevail over all other takes and uses. New Zealand First would pass legislation to ensure that the granting of resource consents is consistent with this statement.
This reform would follow a comprehensive public consultation process, including with local government, farmers, commercial interests and universities.
Māori would be consulted to ensure the statement meets their cultural values as far as possible but New Zealand First opposes the recognition of specific Māori ownership rights over freshwater.
New Zealand First would also develop a national water use strategy to ensure water is only taken for sustainable purposes.
Save thisPrevent the transfer of water consents when the original reason for granting the consent ceases(...)Why
New Zealand First believes that natural resources like water are the common property of New Zealanders. But at the moment businesses are able to make large profits by selling off water consents when they decide they no longer need them. This means that important water infrastructure is sometimes not developed by these businesses and councils receive nothing. Preventing the transfer of water consents in these circumstances should ensure water is more effectively managed.How
New Zealand First would change water consent regulations to prevent the transfer of water consents when the consent holder no longer needs the water for the reason the consent was granted.
Save thisClean up urban waterways(...)Why
New Zealand First believes that New Zealand’s waterways are too polluted, especially in urban areas, and that this requires urgent attention.How
New Zealand First would work on cleaning up town and city waterways to prevent further pollution. Both central and local government would have responsibility for this, including by educating the public and implementing best practice water management.
Save thisRemove the requirement to consult iwi from the Resource Management Act(...)Why
New Zealand First believes that water is common property and should be owned by all New Zealanders equally.
But the National Government is spreading iwi ownership including by involving iwi in local government decision-making for policy statements and resource plans. And the Waikato Regional Council has recognised and provided for iwi rights and interests in freshwater.
New Zealand First believes these developments puts iwi rights and interests above other people’s, and are holding back development. This must be opposed.How
New Zealand First would repeal all provisions in the Resource Management Act that require consultation with iwi, including for water consents and discharge consents.
New Zealand First also opposes other recognition of iwi rights and interests in freshwater.
Save thisCharge for large-scale commercial use of water(...)Why
Labour believes that the large scale use of freshwater for commercial purposes, particularly by farmers and for bottled water, is polluting waterways. Everyone owns the water but without royalties being paid it some profit unfairly.
Imposing a royalty on large commercial users of water should result in more efficient and less harmful decisions about how to use water, and provide a return to New Zealanders.How
Labour would charge a royalty on large commercial uses of water. Households and councils would not have to pay the royalty.
The level of the royalty would be set following consultation with all affected sectors. It would vary region to region depending on the scarcity of water, the quality of water, and its use. The royalty for bottled water would be on a per litre basis, and the royalty for irrigation per 1000 litres.
Revenue from the royalties would largely go to regional councils, and may be used for the cost of keeping water clean.
Save thisAim for all lakes and rivers to be swimmable within a generation(...)Why
Labour believes that clean water is the birthright of all New Zealanders, and vital to the country’s prosperity. Rivers and lakes are a taonga of huge significance to Māori and support agriculture.
The National Government’s recent water quality standards are more trickery than a real attempt to make a difference. Requiring resource consents for activities which harm waterways should help to restore lakes and rivers to a swimmable state within a lifetime.How
Labour would strengthen water quality regulations by changing the National Policy Statement.
The new statement would set strong standards for pathogens, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, periphyton (slime), and macroinvertebrate health, and would require resource consents for activities which harm waterways. Currently, some land uses which cause nutrient and faecal contamination of waterways are a permitted activity which can be undertaken without resource consent.
Within five years, all intensively stocked land near waterways would need to be fenced, and planting would be required along riverbanks.
Labour expects these changes to make lakes and rivers swimmable within a lifetime.
Save thisIncrease funding for the Environmental Protection Agency(...)Why
Labour believes that all New Zealanders should be able to swim in their local rivers and lakes but too many are unsafe to swim in and toxic for fish. This is partly because there are rarely any consequences for farmers who act illegally or who engage in practices like ‘spray and pray’ by intensively using run-off and fertiliser to strip pasture for grazing.
Increasing funding to the Environmental Protection Agency should ensure that environmental regulations are properly enforced, improving water quality.How
Labour would increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Save thisProvide community work jobs for young people who have been unemployed for more than six months(...)Why
Labour believes that there are too many young people not in work, study or training. The longer a young person is unemployed, the harder it is for them to access good work or training in the future, and the more likely they are to become involved in crime and have poor health outcomes.
Providing jobs for unemployed young people should give them an opportunity to gain work experience, earn a wage and avoid long-term unemployment, while also helping to clean up waterways.How
Labour would provide community work jobs for young people who have been on the Jobseeker Support payment for more than six months under its Ready for Work scheme.
The jobs would pay at least the minimum wage. Participants would be given mentors employed by Work and Income who would help with training and preparation for seeking work after the programme.
The jobs would involve working on environmental or community projects for the Department of Conservation, NGOs and local councils, such as fencing waterways, riparian planting, and other work to improve water quality. Work and Income would administer the programme and decide which organisations could have access to work from programme participants.
Labour estimates that 10,000 people would participate in the programme each year at a cost of $60 million.
Save thisWork with iwi to resolve Treaty water claims(...)Why
Labour believes that our rivers and lakes are a taonga of huge significance to Māori. Everyone owns our water, but some have interests in it that others don’t, such as Māori. Treaty claims over water should be resolved in a way that respects iwi’s mana and restores the mauri of the rivers and lakes.How
Labour would work with iwi to resolve Treaty water claims.
Save thisEstablish a cap and trade system for commercial water use(...)Why
The Opportunities Party believes that the environment is at the core of New Zealanders’ economic and social wellbeing and quality of life. But water is being given away virtually for free to overseas companies, agriculture and industry.
Establishing a price for the use of water should ensure its value is recognised and that it is allocated to its most productive uses.How
The Opportunities Party would introduce a charge for the commercial use of water, and a ‘cap and trade’ system for allocating rights to consume water.
A baseline volume would be established for each water system, reflecting how much water needs to be left to ensure sustainability and Māori customary ownership rights. Water in excess of that baseline would be available for purchase and trading.
Water would be priced on both a per-litre basis and by entitlements. Water access entitlements would be rights to the first opportunity to purchase water from a system at a per litre price. Entitlements would run for varying lengths of time.
Existing resource consent holders would keep their entitlement for the remaining life of the resource consent, but would need to pay the market per litre price for any water used. When the consent runs out, a new access entitlement would have to be purchased.
The per litre price would be determined by tender with the tender. Buyers with water access entitlements would have first opportunity to purchase water up to the amount of their entitlement. Any excess water would be available for others to buy at the per litre price.
The income from the auctioning of consents and from the per litre charge would be used to establish regional Nature Improvement Funds. These would allow regional councils to invest in environmentally beneficial projects, including on monitoring freshwater quality, afforestation schemes and resolving water ownership issues with Māori. At least half of the revenue would stay within the region, with up to half distribution around other regions.
As a precondition of this policy, the Opportunities Party would resolve issues of water ownership with regard to the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi.
This policy is part of the Opportunities Party’s goal to create a holistic environmental impact system for farmers across the issues of soil, forestry, water quality and climate change.
Save thisEstablish a cap and trade system for water pollution(...)Why
The Opportunities Party believes the environment is at the core of New Zealanders’ economic and social wellbeing and quality of life. But short-sighted governments past and present have ignored sustainability in the pursuit of economic growth at all costs, degrading and polluting New Zealand’s rivers and natural heritage.
Introducing a polluter-pays system should ensure that sustainable pollution levels are set and monitored and that pollution becomes unprofitable.How
The Opportunities Party would introduce a polluter pays system to cap nitrogen levels in water catchments and allow farmers to trade nitrogen leaching rights.
All water catchments would be assessed to determine the level of nitrate and other pollutants allowed based on a default goal for all rivers to be swimmable. Local communities would be able to decide to pursue a lower water quality standard goal provided they deliver specific instructions to their councils. A cap would be set for nitrogen leaching per hectare based on the water quality goal. This cap would be reduced over time until waterways become swimmable.
A system for trading nitrogen leaching rights would then be established. Either businesses could trade rights directly, or an authority would charge penalties to businesses who exceeded their allocation and pay bonuses to businesses who leach less nitrogen than their allowance.
Revenue from the polluter pays system would be go toward regional Nature Improvement Funds. These would allow regional councils to invest in environmentally beneficial projects, including on monitoring freshwater quality, afforestation schemes and resolving water ownership issues with Māori. At least half of the revenue would stay within the region, with up to half distribution around other regions.
This policy is part of the Opportunities Party’s goal to create a holistic environmental impact system for farmers across the issues of soil, forestry, water quality and climate change.
Save thisImpose an interim ban on the intensification of land use(...)Why
The Opportunities Party believes that the environment is at the core of New Zealanders’ economic and social wellbeing and quality of life. But current agricultural practices mean productive land use has reached its sustainable limit in many cases, and this is leading to decline in the quality of our rivers and lakes.
Regional catchments already have a mandate for improving water quality but are not doing enough about it. Imposing an interim moratorium on the intensification of land use should encourage councils to take action to the quality of their rivers and lakes.How
The Opportunities Party would implement a moratorium on intensification of land use until regional catchments have a plan to improve water quality.
Save thisResolve Treaty claims over water ownership(...)Why
The Opportunities Party believes that both National and Labour have refused to make meaningful progress on the issue of water ownership and that this failure is largely to blame for the current disputes over water ownership rights.How
The Opportunities Party would seek to resolve issues over water ownership with due regard to the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi. This would be a precondition for establishing a commercial model for water.
Save thisReforest all erosion prone land by 2030(...)Why
The Opportunities Party believes that forestry has an important part to play in achieving carbon neutrality because it has the potential to offset most, if not all, agricultural emissions over time.
In addition to reducing New Zealand’s emissions, reforesting erosion prone land should also reduce the sediment clogging New Zealand’s rivers, improving freshwater quality.How
The Opportunities Party would reforest all erosion prone land as soon as possible. Reforestation would be achieved through an expansion of the Afforestation Grants Scheme, which provides payments to landowners to plant trees.
The Afforestation Grants Scheme would be adjusted to provide grants up front to landowners, and have it paid back over time as the forest accrues carbon credits.
The effect of The Opportunities Party’s reforms to the Emissions Trading Scheme should also encourage more rapid planting of trees.
;" class="bgcolor">Māori Party
Save thisBan the export of bottled water by foreign companies until the question of water ownership is addressed(...)Why
The Māori Party believes that water is taonga, and Māori have a responsibility to protect it as kaitiaki. But at the moment it is being freely used for profit without benefitting the community.
The debate over water quality, rights and ownership should be resolved before any more water is bottled and sold overseas by foreign companies.How
The Māori Party would place an interim ban on the export of bottled water by foreign-owned companies until the issue of Māori rights and interests in water has been addressed.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry would be established to look into this issue.
Save thisAim for freshwater to be drinkable(...)Why
The Māori Party believes that mana of water is the primary objective for freshwater management. Healthy water is not just a nice thing to have; healthy water is valuable to our tourism industry and to food exporters too.
At the moment, the proposed ‘swimmable’ standards for water do not do enough to protect this precious natural resource.How
The Māori Party would make drinkability the standard for fresh water.
Save thisEstablish a Minister for Freshwater(...)Why
The Māori Party believes that as kaitiaki of this country Māori have a responsibility to protect water. But more needs to be done.
Establishing a Minister for Freshwater should help to restore the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and waterways, as well as ensuring that hapū and iwi are involved in decisions about the management of environmental resources.How
The Māori Party would establish a Minister for Freshwater. They would have responsibility for addressing freshwater protection, rights and interests.
The Minister would prioritise action to counter the effects of pollution caused by nitrogen and phosphorus that are leaching into our waterways.
Save thisGive freshwater the status of tāonga under law(...)Why
The Māori Party believes that as kaitiaki of this country Māori have a responsibility to protect water. Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi also requires hapū and iwi to be involved in decisions about the management of environmental resources as kaitiaki and tangata whenua.How
The Māori Party would change the law so that freshwater is a tāonga with legal protection.
Save thisEstablish a new fund for community conservation projects(...)Why
The Māori Party believes that natural resources should be managed in a way that protects the environment.
Communities are often in a better position to know what needs to be done in their own area. Supporting community conservation initiatives should help to protect New Zealand’s environment.How
The Māori Party would set up an annual Te Mana O Te Wai fund to support community conservation projects, such as planting riparian buffers and establishing wetlands.