Return to key areas of work

Partnering for improved freshwater outcomes

Last updated: 31 August 2023
Reporting frequency: Quarterly
Portfolio: Water and land

We are supporting improved land use management practices, through a mix of education, regulation and targeted compliance monitoring to reduce environmental impacts and enhance the environment.

We work with landholders, sector groups, other agencies, the wider community and Ngāi Tahu for improved environmental outcomes and to respond to emerging issues.

How are we tracking on our Levels of Service?

Level of Service 6: Increase community awareness and understanding of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the Canterbury Land and Water Management Plan requirements.

To achieve this level of service, we will develop campaigns to improve landowner/community understanding of new national direction and Land and Water Regional Plan requirements.

How did we do: The intensive winter grazing and the synthetic nitrogen cap campaigns are over halfway through. Opportunities for farmers to discuss regulations with us were provided via drop-in sessions, and presentations were delivered at several jointly held industry field days and workshops.

As part of the intensive winter grazing campaign in 2022/23, a pre-grazing flight was undertaken in Ashburton and Waimakariri districts in early May to observe how farmers were setting up their wintering paddocks in preparation for winter.

Level of Service 8: Work with landowners, stakeholders, Ngāi Tahu and the community to identify and manage significant emerging environmental issues.

To achieve this level of service, we will deliver programmes with the community to respond to significant emerging environmental issues.

How did we do: A work programme is in progress at Ōtūwharekai Ashburton Lakes. Reports, research and input from multiple parties are providing a greater understanding of what on-farm mitigation options are required to deliver the desired reduction in nutrient loss into the lakes.

Much of our work has focused on working with each landowner in the catchment to make changes to land use practices, such as those involving the winter grazing of livestock. We have also undertaken additional science work to better understand lake dynamics to inform future actions.

Level of Service 9: Enable resource users to implement Good Management Practices (GMP).

As part of this level of service we will:

  • 9.1 Undertake a targeted biennial survey of customers (eg auditors and consent holders) to determine the level of satisfaction with our system, framework, and tools.
  • 9.2 Ensure Environment Farm Plan audits are completed.
  • 9.3 Report on progress against the Aggregated Consent Entities work programme

How did we do: The biennial targeted survey of customers was postponed last year due to COVID-19 and rescheduled. Resource users were questioned on the level of satisfaction with the system, the framework and the tools provided by the farm environment plan auditing programme. Results show they were ‘largely satisfied to extremely satisfied’ with our response time. Some improvements to tools were suggested, which will be investigated.

Approximately 29% of Environment Farm Plan audits were completed as at end June 2023. This does not include farm environment plan audits of farms under schemes, multi managed enterprises or nutrient management groups.

We have been in contact with Irrigation Schemes to ensure they are aware of new National Standards for Freshwater.

Level of Service 10: Monitor and review efficiency and effectiveness of land and water implementation programmes and campaigns.

To achieve this level of service, we will review campaigns and implementation programmes to inform ongoing improvements and effectiveness.

How did we do: A review of the Synthetic Nitrogen Fertiliser Cap (N-Cap) and Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) campaigns has been undertaken. Some challenges were found in relation to data availability, which limits the opportunity for detailed tracking over time. We also noted some inconsistencies in how we were reporting back to the community.

A reporting template has now been introduced, along with training, to improve the consistency of reporting back to the community.

Level of Service 11: Achieve improvements in freshwater outcomes through implementation and delivery of work programmes with partners and key agencies, where priorities are aligned

As part of this level of service we will:

  • 11.1 Deliver actions as agreed in shared work programme(s) between the relevant parties in accordance with priorities for each catchment-based partnership.
  • 11.2 Deliver actions as agreed in shared work programme(s) between the relevant parties in accordance with aligned priorities.
  • 11.3 Identify and support projects through Zone Committee Action Plans.

How are we doing: Examples of catchment-based partnerships include the Te Waihora Co-Governance Arrangement, Whaka-ora Healthy Harbour and Te Mōkihi in the Mackenzie Basin. We work towards the goal of being a Treaty Partner of excellence, by delivering operational programmes in partnership with ngā rūnanga and others.

In February the Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour Governors group signed a new Collaboration Agreement outlining the roles and responsibilities of the partners over the coming year. For the Whakaora Te Waihora Programme, further restoration programmes along the Huritini/Halswell River and in the Ahuriri Lagoon were progressed. The Whakaora Te Waikēkēwai project is working on progressing riparian planting along Te Waikēkēwai/ Waikēkēwai Stream. The design for the Te Repo o Papatahora wetland on iwi land was approved by mana whenua.

The Te Mana Ora (Community & Public Health)/Christchurch City Council/Environment Canterbury has been the only active joint work programme with actions taken that will improve freshwater outcomes on aligned priorities in 2022/23. A report is available from our document library.

For priority projects, there have been 18 projects to improve freshwater outcomes supported through Zone Committee Action Plans. In addition, further projects that align with the priorities of current and previous Zone Committees were supported.

Find out more about the water management zone committees and their work programmes.


Recent highlights and updates


Kaikōura and Hurunui Waiau Uwha zone delivery lead Marco Cataloni updates us on the SCAR Programme and provides a grape marc storage reminder.

Return to key areas of work Top