Voluntary action

There are many groups around New Zealand that undertake voluntary action to improve and restore the ecological health of water bodies. This includes fencing the margins of water bodies, undertaking planting on riparian margins and in wetlands, and monitoring water quality. Councils can support such activities by providing technical assistance and financial contributions.

Project Twin Streams is an example of a community-based restoration project. The project is based in Waitakere City and has focused on the restoration of 56 kilometres of stream banks. Community groups contracted with the council to undertake the planting and maintenance work. The council purchased more than 80 properties which were subject to flooding freeing up additional land for planting. The project also included an extensive art component, where community members were involved in environmental art activities such as painting, sculpture, ceramics, music and drama. 2049

An example of an industry led action programme is the Clean Streams Accord spearheaded by Fonterra, a co-operative owned by the majority of New Zealand dairy farmers. This was replaced in 2013 with The Sustainable Dairying Water Accord . This document set out a number of expectations and commitments including:

  • 100% stock exclusion from certain waterways and drains by 31 May 2017
  • 100% stock exclusion from identified significant wetlands by 31 May 2014
  • 100% of races and regular stock crossing points have bridges or culverts by 31 May 2018
  • Collect data from 100% of dairy farms and model N loss by 31 May 2015
  • Provide N loss information back to 100% of dairy farmers by 30 November 2015
  • 100% assessment of effluent management systems by dairy companies by 31 May 2014
  • 85% of dairy farms to install water meters by 2020

A 2017 report on progress to achieve those outcomes found that national levels of significant non-compliance for dairy effluent systems had reduced from 7 per cent in 2013-14 to just above 5 per cent during the 2015-16 period, and more than 97 per cent of the country's dairy cattle were recorded as being fenced off from waterways on farms, which required 26,197 kilometres of fencing.  Stock exclusion from wetlands and preparation of riparian management plans did not meet targets.

Another form of voluntary action is demand management. This entails providing information and establishing policies to assist people to conserve water and limit demand. The Ministry for the Environment has identified the main barriers that prevent people from conserving water as being: 2050

  • Having minimal information about personal water use
  • The view that there is no need to conserve water because New Zealand has a plentiful supply
  • The cost, time and effort involved in conserving water

To overcome these attitudes, people need greater information about the benefits of conserving water and the simple ways they can do so. If households are charged directly for their water use then this is likely to create an incentive to conserve water. 2051  Some councils have implemented water metering as a basis for charging.

New Zealand has adopted water efficiency standards for domestic water fittings. The water efficiency labelling scheme applies to six types of products: clothes washing machines, dishwashers, lavatories, showers, taps and urinals. 2052  Efficiency ratings appear on these domestic fittings in retail outlets. 2053  All labels will include a water consumption or flow figure. 2591

Environmental education plays an important role in increasing the willingness of people to engage in voluntary activities. This is through ensuring that people understand why it is important to protect the health of freshwater bodies and what actions they can take to help achieve this end.

 

  1. Waitakere City Council, 2010, Project Twin Streams: A snapshot 2010, Waitakere City Council, Henderson

  2. Ministry for the Environment, 2009, On Tap?: Attitudes, behaviours, and perceptions of household water use- informing demand management, Ministry for  the  Environment, Wellington, available at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/water/on-tap-household-water-use/html/page6.html

  3. Ministry for the Environment, 2009, On Tap?: Attitudes, behaviours, and perceptions of household water use- informing demand management, Ministry for  the  Environment, Wellington, available at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/water/on-tap-household-water-use/html/page6.html

  4. Ministry for the Environment, 2010, An Introduction to the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme, Ministry for the Environment, available at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/water/wels-scheme/index.html, p2

  5. Ministry for the Environment, 2010, An Introduction to the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme, Ministry for the Environment, available at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/water/wels-scheme/index.html, p4

  6. Ministry for the Environment, 2010, An Introduction to the New Zealand Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme, Ministry for the Environment, available at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/water/wels-scheme/index.html, p4

Last updated at 6:35PM on November 16, 2017