How are we doing now?

Environment Canterbury works with the community to help ensure we have clean and plentiful fresh water now and for generations to come – but the impact of human activity will take many years to repair. People from across our region are working together as kaitiaki to protect and improve our water resources. 

Canterbury’s water is unique – coming from rain, and snow melt in the Alps, coursing through our braided, alpine rivers.  The multiple, shifting channels of these rivers are an iconic natural feature.

We're fortunate to have plenty of water - just over 62 billion cubic metres flows into rivers and groundwater aquifers.

This alpine water and rainfall feeds our aquifers, and provides our drinking water.

Nearly 7 billion cubic metres of freshwater is used from groundwater or surface water annually. This is made up of 4.4 billion m³ for irrigation, 1.7 billion m³ for stock-water, and 600 million m³ for community and industrial use.


Water allocation is an important and strategic issue.  Decisions around water use need to both sustain the economy and protect our environment.

We now have the strictest limits in New Zealand to sustainably manage the use of our water.