Environment Canterbury welcomes new study into our water quality challenge

Environment Canterbury agrees with a new study that found achieving national bottom lines for contaminants across New Zealand will be a huge challenge.

The report released by Our Land and Water, 'Current state of water contaminants compared to bottom lines', found that substantial reductions of sediment, phosphorous, nitrogen and E. coli are needed to meet the national bottom lines set out in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPSFM).

The study shows that reductions in sediment loss are needed across the Canterbury hill and high country, while intensively farmed areas on the Canterbury plains require large reductions in nitrogen losses. Additionally, The Selwyn Te Waihora region needs to reduce phosphorous load to meet the NPSFM limit, and E. coli levels are unacceptably high across the region.

Work to reduce sedimentation and nutrient loss is ongoing

Science Director Dr Tim Davie said that while there are no surprises in this report, it reinforces the need for us to continue efforts to reduce our impact on freshwater.

"While this is the first research specifically into the national bottom lines, the need to reduce the volume of contaminants entering freshwater is not news to us in Canterbury," Davie said. "This work has been done at a national scale and we will be working on refining the information for community discussions at a local level as part of freshwater planning. That said, it’s always good to have more science to inform us."

"Our Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan requires landowners to make significant reductions in the loss of nitrate, phosphorous and sediment, and we’re starting to see some progress," he said.  

Davie added that independent of national bottom lines, Cantabrians are telling their regional council they want swimmable rivers, safe drinking water and healthy freshwater ecosystems.

"What we know, and are hearing from our community, is that in some parts of our region we need to do more to achieve expectations,” he said.


"We’re currently in the process of seeking community input on our freshwater priorities as we work towards notifying a new Regional Policy Statement in 2024. We will then be engaging with the community on how we should meet freshwater goals, which will form the basis of a new regional plan."