Freshwater Management Framework

Who manages freshwater?

All rights to use, dam, divert, or take water or discharge into water that were previously vested in the Crown remain so under the RMA. 2011 Although the Crown does not own freshwater, it exercises the overall control on how freshwater in New Zealand can be used. The Crown has delegated the control of use and pollution of freshwater to regional councils. The RMA states that regional councils are responsible for: 2012  

  • The control of the use of land for the purpose of the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of water in water bodies and coastal water
  • The control of the use of land for the purpose of the maintenance of the quantity of water in water bodies and coastal water, and for the maintenance and enhancement of ecosystems in water bodies and coastal water
  • The control of the taking, use, damming, and diversion of water, and the control of the quantity, level, and flow of water in any water body. Including:
    • the setting of any maximum or minimum levels or flows of water
    • the control of the range, or rate of change, of levels or flows of water
    • the control of the taking or use of geothermal energy
  • the establishment, implementation, and review of objectives, policies and methods for maintaining indigenous biological biodiversity. 

Water management in New Zealand is largely undertaken within the framework of the RMA. The purpose and principles of the RMA, the policy and planning framework and the resource consent framework are discussed in detail in the RMA section of this website. The following sections discusses those parts of the RMA framework which relate specifically to freshwater.

  1. Section 354 Resource Management Act 1991

  2. Section 30 Resource Management Act 1991

Last updated at 5:25PM on November 16, 2017