OECD environment report reinforces opportunities
An OECD report on New Zealand's environmental performance reinforces the need for regional councils to work with communities on managing freshwater says Chris Laidlaw, Greater Wellington Regional Council chair.
"The OECD report recommends involving people who use and value freshwater in discussions around allocating this precious resource and improving water quality where needed.
"It lays bare the hard truth that economic expansion and environmental restoration are difficult to reconcile.
"The OECD calls on the government to increase financial support and capacity for regional councils to enable them to deliver better results, particularly on freshwater management. We need that help and we need more clarity from the government on this, says Cr Laidlaw.
"Our whole approach to improving water quality in this region has been built around community aspirations and the methods and rules that are being developed are designed to deliver real impacts in water quality, availability and use."
Councillor Laidlaw says GWRC recognised the need to for this approach when it began the review of its Natural Resources Plan in 2010.
"Without buy-in from all the interests in local communities it is very hard to get lasting agreements on how to manage freshwater issues, says Cr Laidlaw.
"It's also fundamentally important to understand that the quality of water in streams and rivers is not just the result of farming practices. Urban contamination is also a major contributor and the programmes of action will be a mix of urban and rural actions.
"We're currently working with communities in Wairarapa and around Porirua Harbour to make informed decisions about managing land and freshwater for future generations. We will begin the same conversation with communities in the Hutt Valley and Wellington later in the year."
GWRC's Proposed Natural Resources Plan will be heard by an independent panel from May this year before being formally adopted. Public hearings will be held in Kāpiti, Wellington and Wairarapa.
"We've spent five years working jointly with iwi in the region to consult stakeholders and develop a plan that will serve the region's environment and its people."
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