National Values

Appendix 1 to the NPSFM sets out national values and uses for freshwater. The compulsory national values are ecosystem health and human health for recreation:

Ecosystem health – The freshwater management unit supports a healthy ecosystem appropriate to that freshwater body type (river, lake, wetland, or aquifer). In a healthy freshwater ecosystem ecological processes are maintained, there is a range and diversity of indigenous flora and fauna, and there is resilience to change.

Matters to take into account for a healthy freshwater ecosystem include the management of adverse effects on flora and fauna of contaminants, changes in freshwater chemistry, excessive nutrients, algal blooms, high sediment levels, high temperatures, low oxygen, invasive species, and changes in flow regime. Other matters to take into account include the essential habitat needs of flora and fauna and the connections between water bodies. The health of flora and fauna may be indicated by measures of macroinvertebrates

Human health for recreation – As a minimum, the freshwater management unit will present no more than a moderate risk of infection to people when they are wading or boating or involved in similar activities that involve only occasional immersion in the water. Other contaminants or toxins, such as toxic algae, would not be present in such quantities that they would harm people’s health.

In freshwater management units where a community values more frequent immersion in the water such as swimming, white-water rafting, or water skiing, the risk of infection will be no more than moderate. In some freshwater management units, the risk of infection to people undertaking any activity would be no greater than what would exist there under natural conditions.

The additional national values are:

  • Natural form and character
  • Mahinga kai
  • Fishing
  • Irrigation and food production
  • Animal drinking water
  • Wahi tapu
  • Water supply
  • Commercial and industrial use
  • Hydro-electric power generation
  • Transport and tauranga waka

There is an exception from national bottom lines where the existing quality is caused by a naturally occurring process, or any of the existing significant infrastructure listed in Appendix 3 – except that Appendix 3 is currently unpopulated.

 Once freshwater objectives have been determined, Policy A1 requires that freshwater quality limits are set for all freshwater management units and that methods including rules are established in plans to avoid over-allocation.  A ‘limit’ is the maximum amount of resource use available, which allows a freshwater objective to be met.  In contrast to a freshwater objective, a limit relates to people’s use of freshwater resources.  For example, it could be expressed as a source load, catchment load, loading rate, loss rate, or concentration. The intention is that limits are able to be allocated to a particular user, activity or sector where practicable.

 Policy A2 requires that where freshwater managements currently do not meet the freshwater objectives (they are over-allocated already) the regional council must specify targets and implement methods to assist the improvement of water quality in the freshwater management units to meet those targets within a defined timeframe. These policies are likely to mean that rules are required to control land uses and discharges, such as riparian set backs and nitrogen discharge allowances.  Other methods may also be applied, such as incentives to plant riparian margins. 

Similarly, for water quantity, regional plans must establish freshwater objectives and set environmental flows and/or levels for all freshwater management units in the region (Policy B1).  Regional councils must ensure that no decision will likely result in future over-allocation (Policy B5) and must set a defined timeframe and methods by which over-allocation must be phased out.

Regional councils must also change plans to provide for the efficient allocation of fresh water to activities, within the limits set.

Regional councils are to impose conditions on discharge permits to ensure the limits and targets can be met. Provision is also made for the creation of rules requiring the adoption of the best practicable option to prevent or minimise any actual or likely adverse effect on the environment of any discharge of contaminants where it will or may enter water.


Last updated at 9:25AM on April 3, 2018