Compliance monitoring and enforcement 5-year plan

As part of Environment Canterbury’s compliance monitoring and enforcement (CME) programme, we created a five-year plan for 2020–2025, strengthening our risk-based approach and identifying six priority areas of focus.

Fish screens

Fish screens are designed to protect fish

What is a fish screen?

A fish screen is a structure designed to protect fish, including trout, salmon and native fish, by keeping them out of water takes where the inlet could impact fish. Water takes are used for irrigation, stock-water, community supplies or hydro-electric power generation.

In Canterbury there are around 900 fish screens consented – these consents must have a compliant fish screen, usually designed and engineered for a specific surface water take to ensure fish remain in the waterway from where water is being taken, without being harmed.

5 - year plan

Year 1 2020/2021
  1. A draft framework was completed. This included: 
    - a framework for a Fish Screen Specialist accreditation process. This will allow us to ensure a specialist is suitably qualified to provide compliant new fish screen designs for consent holders to become compliant.
    - an Action Plan approval process. This is the process by which a consent holder advises how and when they intend to make their fish screen compliant.
  2. Assessment of a possible catchment approach to better align to our treaty partner priorities and better community and stakeholder engagement is being reviewed in parallel with the draft framework. A catchment approach is where specific catchments are prioritised for monitoring and compliance requirements.
  3. Development of an approach to promote consolidation of multiple fish screens into one screen where these opportunities exist has been moved to Year 3 while the draft framework is being finalised and piloted. Consolidation involves a group of consent holders working collaboratively to install a single effective fish screen, which is likely to be more cost-effective and have higher environmental performance than multiple screens.
  4. As of 1 July 2021, 170 high-risk fish screens were monitored. This equates to 88% of our highest water takes within the Canterbury region, ahead of our target towards 95% of highest water takes over the 5 Year Plan. Progress with action plans was delayed due to emergency weather events in the Southern Canterbury region, Covid restrictions and resourcing constraints.
Year 2 2021/2022
  • Continue to work with treaty partners to co-design governance, framework processes and inclusion of rūnanga and iwi requirements. This includes a possible catchment approach to better align to our treaty partner priorities and better community and stakeholder engagement.

  • Continue to develop a framework for a Fish Screen Specialist accreditation process, which will ensure that new fish screen designs are fit for purpose and that consent holders have a process and support, to move to compliance.

  • Continue to develop a framework for the approval and monitoring of Action Plans for non-compliant fish screens. An action plan refers to a consent holder’s plan of how and when their fish screen will become compliant.

  • Continue to explore opportunities for consolidation of multiple fish screens into one where these exist. Consolidation involves a group of consent holders working collaboratively to install a single effective fish screen, which may have more positive environmental outcomes, and cost benefits, than multiple screens.

  • Focus compliance on monitored sites to implement action plans towards compliance from 170 sites monitored to date.

  • Continue to monitor high-risk fish screens across the Canterbury region, pending confirmation of Covid restrictions. (High risk is defined by our Treaty partners and key stakeholders.)

Year 3 2022/2023

Establish a fish screen specialist accreditation and governance approach and Action Plan approval process for non-compliant fish screens.

  • Establish a governance structure with Treaty Partners for successful management of the fish screen programme framework.
  • Explore and establish a fish screen accreditation process with industry to ensure that new fish screen designs are fit for purpose and to ensure the consent holder has a process and the required support to move to compliance.
  • Establish an Action Plan approval process to ensure consent holders are providing clarity of how and when they will move to compliance.
  • Explore, where opportunities exist, the consolidation of multiple fish screens into one screen. Consolidation involves a group of consent holders working collaboratively to install a single effective fish screen, which may have more positive environmental outcomes and cost benefits than multiple screens.
  • Focus compliance on monitoring action plans and continue to monitor high-risk fish screens across Canterbury (depending on Covid restrictions).  

Year 4 2023/2024

Implement fish screen specialist accreditation and governance approach and the Action Plan approval process for non-compliant fish screens.

  • Implement a governance structure with Treaty Partners for successful management of the fish screen programme framework.
  • Implement the fish screen accreditation process with industry to ensure that new fish screen designs are fit for purpose and to ensure the consent holder has a process and required support to move to compliance.
  • Implement the Action Plan approval process to ensure consent holders will advise how and when they intend to move to compliance.
  • Where opportunities exist, promote consolidation of multiple fish screens into one screen. 
  • Focus compliance on monitoring action plans and continue to monitor high-risk fish screens across the Canterbury region.
Year 5 2024/2025
  • Monitor high-risk fish screens.
  • Track progress against fish screen action plans.

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Good management practices

What are the campaigns about?

The Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) introduced a new rule framework requiring all farmers to implement good management practice (GMP), have an environmental plan and put limits on nitrogen losses from farms. Farming activities that pose a high risk to the environment, such as farms with high nitrogen losses, more than 50 hectares of irrigation or involve winter grazing practices, need a specific resource consent which includes an independently audited Farm Environment Plan (FEP).

The Farming Land Use (FLU) Consent Campaigns began in 2017 with a main focus on supporting farmers to understand and comply with the new requirements. The campaigns were prioritised into four different target groups, beginning with farms with more than 50 hectares of irrigation, then following up with farms in Selwyn, Hinds and the South Coastal Canterbury areas.

The majority of farmers meeting their new obligations, with only a very small number requiring some form of enforcement action. We also launched another major awareness campaign with a focus on farms that may require a FLU consent under the more recent Plan Change 5 requirements.

5 - year plan

Year 1  - 2020/2021
  • Farming consent campaigns were developed and focused on supporting farmers to understand and comply with the new farming land use consent requirements. The campaigns were prioritised into four different target groups, beginning with farms with more than 50 hectares of irrigation, then following up with farms in Selwyn, Hinds and the South Coastal Canterbury areas. We also launched another major awareness campaign with a focus on farms that may require a Farming Land Use consent under the more recent Plan Change 5 requirements.
Year 2  - 2021/2022
  • Will conclude existing campaigns and monitor compliance with Farming Land Use consents, including undertaking enforcement action on farms that receive a C or D grade for their FEP audit.
Year 3 - 2022/2023
  • This year will require new campaigns focusing on implementing new national government Essential Freshwater Rules and Regulations and the recent Plan Change 7 (PC7) requirements. There will be a new group of farms that will require a FLU consent that have not needed one in the past. This will include new information resources and direct contact in priority catchments to ensure awareness of new responsibilities and that compliance is achieved.
    There is still a continued focus on ensuring compliance with FLU consents and FEP audits.
Year 4 - 2023/2024
  • Continue with the conclusion of the new national government Essential Freshwater rules and regulations and PC7 campaigns, with continued focus on monitoring compliance with FLU consents and FEP audits.

Year 5 - 2024/2025
  • We anticipate that all farms that require a consent will have obtained one and the focus will solely be on ensuring everyone is complying with their consents.

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High priority consents

What is a high priority consent?

These are consents we consider to be of highest priority based on the following:

  • High risk to the environment
  • High importance to the community
  • High volume of water usage, and
  • Regional coverage

If a consent falls into this category then is it monitored at least annually, but often more frequently. We also take a case management approach for these types of consents, meaning customised monitoring programmes particularly for consent holders with hold multiple consents.

In some cases, the environmental risk of a consent may change over time. For example, when a new bridge or subdivision is constructed the highest risk is at the beginning when soil is exposed, or rivers diverted. But once the project is complete the risk to the environment is generally low.

In deciding our list of high priority consents, we also considered whether the consent holder was one of the following:

  • All territorial authorities (including Environment Canterbury)
  • All Government Ministries and Departments
  • Irrigation schemes
  • Water User Groups
  • Significant partners and stakeholders (Ngai Tahu, Fish & Game, Forest & Bird)
  • Power companies
  • Farming collectives
  • Regional infrastructure (ports, airport)
  • Regional construction/gravel companies
  • Marine farms and freshwater salmon farms
  • The very largest water takes in the region
  • Community wastewater schemes (not captured by territorial authorities)
  • High profile (organisational risk) activities

5 - year plan

Year 1  - 2020/2021
  • Ensure all high priority consents are monitored as required.
  • Review annual priorities based on Council, Treaty Partners and community priorities.
  • Develop and implement annual reporting.
Year 2  - 2021/2022
  • Ensure all high priority consents are monitored as required.
  • Continue to monitor, review and report on high priority consents.
  • Analyse trends, gaps and emerging risks to improve the monitoring programme.
Year 3 - 2022/2023
  • Continue to monitor, review and report on high priority consents.
  • Monitor effectiveness of work programme.
Year 4 - 2023/2024
  • Continue to monitor, review and report on high priority consents.

  • Monitor effectiveness of work programme.

  • Build awareness amongst consent holders.

Year 5 - 2024/2025
  • Analyse data to develop an understanding of impact of the 5-year programme.

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Incident response

Helping protect our environment

The public play an important role in protecting our region’s natural resources. Every year, we receive about 4,000 reports region wide regarding incidents with the potential to harm the quality of our air, land or water.

We provide a 24-hour point of contact for reporting environmental incidents to ensure a suitable response occurs. We respond to environmental incidents and consent breaches with a range of enforcement procedures, to remediate adverse effects, educate those responsible, and prevent similar incidents from recurring.

Due to the high volume of reports, we respond to the most serious incidents first.

Find how many incidents we responded to over the last year.

Report an environmental incident

If you’re concerned an activity may be damaging our environment then please call us on 0800 765 588 (24 hours) to report it, or use the Snap Send Solve app to report it from your mobile phone.

Our focus

As incident response is reactive, we can’t plan for it. However, there are common themes when it comes to incident response, and we try – where possible – to work with the community and consent holders to prevent these incidents from happening.

Here’s what we’ve been focusing on this year so far:

Stock in waterways

Of the 40 stock in waterways incidents reported, nine of those were Permitted Activities. 82% (18/22) of the non-intensive stock in waterways events were met within the designated time period of five days. 87.5% (7/8) of the intensive stock in waterways events were met within the designated time period of two days.

Find out more about our response to stock in waterways.

Odour

We have recently introduced a ‘Smelt-It’ app for our community in Bromley to help identify odours within this Christchurch suburb.

We’ve appointed two staff who respond to this and its led to us pinpointing odours and working with the offenders to resolve the issues.

Outdoor burns
Farmer and community awareness campaigns have been undertaken including updates in Canterbury Farming, Selwyn Times, The Press, social media, flyers and radio advertising. Since April 2021, there have been 111 outdoor burns reported in the Southern Zones.
Dust

There has been a continuation of concerns from the community about dust, especially in the Yaldhurst area.

A commitment was made in the Long-Term Plan 2021-31 to better understand and engage on the causes and sources of dust. This includes increased funding for management, monitoring and compliance.

This commitment has seen the establishment of co-design workshops involving community, industry, and councils. These are aimed at setting the scene to better understand the wider community’s concerns and lay the foundation for finding and designing solutions together.

A key aspect of our responsibility in this space is to increase our capacity to respond to incidents to ensure compliance by quarry operators and reduce the number of occurrences of nuisance dust.

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Water use monitoring

Environment Canterbury manages more than 5000 permits (with over 7,900 individual water abstraction points) that allow consent holders to take, use, divert or dam water from groundwater or surface water sources.

To ensure these water takes are managed effectively, our staff monitor the metered water use data against consent conditions. Metering of water takes is required for many surface water and groundwater takes under the Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations 2010 and its 2020 amendments (the ‘national regulations’). These regulations also specify that metered water use data is to be provided to the Council at least annually.

We can’t practically monitor all 5,000 every year, so we use various tools to select consents for monitoring. This includes a software tool that assesses daily actual water use over the summer months and compares the take rate and volume of consents to consent conditions.

This generates “water use alerts”, which are followed up by monitoring officers.

In addition, end-of-season monitoring occurs using a decision-making tool that assesses environmental and compliance criteria to determine an overall “risk score” for each consent.

This means that in addition to water take characteristics, the tool applies other criteria, such as compliance history, and infrastructure and consent complexities.

5 - year plan

Year 1 2020/21

We completed 1,650 inspections for water use monitoring in 2020/2021 through our work programmes. Of these inspections, 1,233 were given a compliant grading.

We began building a new system for water abstraction data that will improve transparency and transmission of data. This system will ensure accurate downstream reporting as well as increased insight into completeness and escalation opportunities for missing data.

Year 2 2021/22

The programme’s focus is to undertake work to: 

  • improve the new system for water abstraction data
  • develop new tools for improved and simpler analysis of water use data
  • continue consent holder education to implement updated national regulations for takes >20l/s.
  • continue improvement for quality assurance/quality control of water use data and metadata, as well as tool and system improvements.
Year 3 2022/23
  • Continuous improvement for quality assurance/ quality control of water use data and metadata, as well as tool and system improvements.
Year 4 2023/24
  • Consent holder education to implement updated national regulations for takes >10l/s.
  • Continuous improvement for quality assurance/ quality control of water use data and metadata, as well as tool and system improvements.
Year 5 2024/25
  • Continuous improvement for quality assurance/quality control of water use data and metadata, as well as tool and system improvements.

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Zone priorities

What are zone priorities?

We have divided Canterbury into ‘zones’, as follows:

The term ‘zone priorities’ relates to consents that are regarded as being important to the local community and rūnanga, but which may only be a high priority to one specific zone at a specific point in time.

Every six months we’ll be focusing on a new zone and the compliance monitoring and enforcement (CME) activities that have been undertaken there.

If you are interested in what activities are happening within your specific Water Zone Committee, visit our water zone pages.

5 - year plan

Year 1 2020/21 - Christchurch and Banks Peninsula sediment erosion campaign

We are taking an integrated approach to improve the water quality and clarity of Cashmere Stream and the Ōpāwaho/Heathcote River by working with local rūnanga, community groups and local councils, as well as monitoring compliance with regional rules and resource consents.

A soil type found in the Port Hills – fine clay-sized loess particles – is particularly problematic. When sediment ends up in our waterways, it can smother freshwater habitats resulting in loss of aquatic flora and fauna.

Over the winter, we conducted on-site reviews of erosion and sediment control practices at building sites in Cashmere and the Port Hills. All builders/contractors were receptive to our visits during the campaign where we found the majority were doing everything right. However, 11 notices of non- compliance were issued meaning that the site owners needed to change their behaviours.

Following on from last year we have seen significant positive behaviour changes across the development and building industries. We are planning to continue our sediment erosion management upskilling and increasing our monitoring outreach across Christchurch. This will help to support Environment Canterbury, the Christchurch City Council and community aspirations of improved water quality in urban waterways.

Year 2: 2021/22 - Upper Waitaki Ahuriri project and Kaikoura projects

Upper Waitaki - Ahuriri Project
The Ahuriri project is taking an integrated whole of catchment approach to improve the TLI of the Ahuriri Arm of Lake Benmore, water quality cultural values in the catchment waterways and wetlands, aligned with the Upper Waitaki Iwi Management Plan and the Upper Waitaki Zone Addendum. We are working with the Irrigation company (MGI/BIC), the Ahuriri Community Catchment Group, The Omarama Stream Catchment Group, as well as monitoring compliance with regional rules and resource consents. We will be bringing our consultants into the project as we review current FEPS and FEMPs.

Intensification, both dryland and irrigation, is associated with deteriorations in water quality and our current strategies have not been able to prevent the lower TLI trigger level being exceeded twice in the last three years. Our compliance response to the risks includes adaptive consents with 50% of farmers, half of whom have had to reduce their farming activities with each exceedance. This has meant that so far 25% of the properties have carried the burden to respond and 75% have not been troubled. A different approach was required to involve the whole catchment.

With the impending rollout of Freshwater Farm plans (FFPs), the Ahuriri project will leverage off concerns about water quality and the option of taking a Fresh whole of catchment approach to engage all farms in the catchment in addressing our catchment issues. We aim to transition all farms to Freshwater Farm Plan standard in preparation for ECans adoption of FFPs.

Our first priority is to take a step-up in farm planning with a more prescribed and rigorous risk assessment on farm. This requires rigorous assessment of inherent risks, farm system risks and farm management risks. We will initially focus on nutrients, sediment and coliforms and their ilk; followed by a focus on the biological and cultural values in the catchment. The risk assessments will provide a solid basis for our discussions with farmers (in local catchment groups, and one on one) to commit to existing good management practices (GMPs) and going beyond GMP where needed to more effectively mitigate contaminant losses.

Our priorities in the biological values are with wetlands, the impacted stream values and encouraging the recognition and enhancement of mahinga kai values in the catchment.

We are working closely with programmes and implementation in rolling out this project, and are about to commence ground truthing our desk-based risk assessments on farm and are supporting the Ahuriri Community Catchment Group and the local catchment groups as they are established.

Kaikōura projects
In Kaikōura, our 3 significant projects are The Kaikōura Flats, Waia Toa / Clarence and Catchment Group Coordination.

  • The Kaikōura Flats project

    The Middle Creek/Te Wai-o-pātiki catchment project started late 2021 and will be completed in 2024. The aim of this project is to improve and enhance biodiversity and water quality values across the Kaikōura Flats, mainly the Middle Creek/Te Wai-o-pātiki catchment. A sponsored stream walk was carried out to collect data about the state of the catchment. The report that followed is guiding actions to address sedimentation, bank slumping, stock access, weed overgrowth and nutrient runoff through fencing, re-battering and planting. Also on the Kaikōura Flats, the Lower Lyell Connection project aims to mitigate, measure and protect the water quality in the Middle Creek/Te Wai-o-pātiki catchment. Community and contractor planting works has begun. This work is being managed by the Kaikōura zone delivery team.

  • Waiau Toa / Clarence weed and pest control
    This project has been ongoing since 2014. Several stakeholders and community groups are involved. A significant trapping programme at the hāpua/rivermouth has contributed to the success of the nesting for braided river birds in this area. Some $30,000 has been allocated to continue the hāpua work. Aerial and ground weed control is scheduled seasonally throughout the other priority areas in the catchment. Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is a significant partner in this project, managing most of Environment Canterbury’s regional funding for this work.

  • Catchment group coordination A local farmer, lifestyle block owner, biodiversity officer and mother is leading Kaikōura’s community catchment project, and planting has begun. Her aim is to establish a trial catchment group along the upper Lyell Creek/Waikōau, which will take a responsibility for their “patch” of the creek and identify opportunities to create resources that could help others looking to create catchment groups.

     

Year 3: 2022/23
  • Long-term projects reviewed and new projects confirmed in April 2022.
  • Ensuring we continue with incorporation of rūnanga values.
  • Update from Waimakariri and Banks Peninsula zones.
Year 4: 2023/24
  • Long-term projects reviewed and new projects confirmed in April 2023.
  • Ensuring we continue with incorporation of rūnanga values.
  • Update from Selwyn Waihora and Ashburton zones.
Year 5: 2024/25
  • Long-term projects reviewed and new projects confirmed in April 2023.
  • Ensuring we continue with the incorporation of rūnanga values.
  • Update from Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora and Lower Waitaki zones.

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