The quality and quantity of drinking water supplies depends on the management of point sources and non-point sources of contaminants in drinking water supply catchments and aquifers, land-use in the catchment or recharge area and on the treatment provided by the territorial authority.
Under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS), goals were set to help make a difference to our environment and how natural resources are managed. Environment Canterbury reports on progress on behalf of CWMS partners.
Here's how things are progressing against 2020 goals. View information on:
Source water quality targets
2020 goal: There is an increase in the percentage of the population supplied with water that meets the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand (DWSNZ) for health-based determinants.
Has the goal been met?
In 2019, changes were made to the DWSNZ as a result of the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2019. As a result, the findings of the Ministry of Health 2018-2019 annual drinking water quality survey now notes that drinking water suppliers "must" comply with the Standards, where previously they had to take "all practicable steps" to comply.
The new standards that this change in law introduced have led to a drop in the percentage of the population supplied with water that meets the DWSNZ, due to either infrastructure issues or compliance testing not being undertaken against the new standards.
2020 goal: A demonstrable decrease in nitrate concentrations in shallow groundwater in priority areas is achieved.
Has this goal been met?
Nitrate concentrations are increasing in many wells in Canterbury, including in high-risk areas like Seadown, northeast Ashburton, Tinwald and the lower Hekeao / Hinds plains. Environment Canterbury's 2021 Groundwater Survey shows no demonstrable decrease in nitrate concentrations, in fact, nitrate concentrations are more likely to be increasing in most of these areas.
- Central Government’s Three Waters Review has resulted in regulatory reform and more support for three waters infrastructure. A new drinking water regulator, Taumata Arowai, was established in 2021.
- In August 2020, Government announced post-COVID funding for councils to invest in improving three waters infrastructure.
- Environment Canterbury produces an annual report outlining the risk of nitrate concentrations in groundwater. Maps for each zone can be found on the Community and Public Health website.
- Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) uses groundwater quality indicators monitored by regional councils and unitary authorities to show state and trend analysis of nitrate concentration.
- Environment Canterbury will continue to monitor groundwater quality and investigate emerging contaminants, sharing this data with territorial authorities.
- Christchurch City Council will continue the establishment of shallow groundwater monitoring and will share data with Environment Canterbury.
- Environment Canterbury will improve compliance requirements under new national regulations and continue regular community and industry education and behaviour change campaigns to protect drinking water quality.
- The current operational delivery of three waters infrastructure is likely to change over the next few years as a result of Central Government’s Three Waters Review.
- Environment Canterbury will implement a drinking water source protection work programme, giving effect to requirements of Taumata Arowai, the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F).
Catchment nutrient loads
2020 goal: Achieved nutrient efficiency targets for the zone on all new irrigated land and 80% of other land in major rural land uses (pasture, major arable and major horticulture crops), and have 100% of rural properties working towards those targets (and of properties within urban boundaries that apply nutrients over significant areas).
Has the goal been met?
Nutrient efficiency targets on all farming activities are set as nutrient management rules in Plan Change 5 and sub-region sections of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP). These rules set industry-agreed Good Management Practice (GMP) as the minimum standard for all farming activities on properties larger than 10 hectares. Primary industry sector organisations have worked together to describe what GMP looks like for different farming types. The LWRP requires the implementation of GMP on farm to achieve water quality outcomes.
- There are 7,400 farms in Canterbury (based on Statistics New Zealand Agricultural Production stats: June 2017) of which 1,400 require a land use consent and 1,500 have an authorisation to farm as they are managed by collectives (irrigation schemes and farming enterprises) holding a consent. The remaining 4,500 farms operate under Permitted Activity status because their activities are of a lower environmental risk.
- In the 2019-20 year, 1,097 Farm Environmental Plan audits were conducted, of which 93% achieved an A or B audit grade. An A grade means the farm is compliant and achieving GMP, while a B grade means the farm is compliant and on track to achieve GMP by the next audit, due to take place two years later.
- Environment Canterbury will continue to implement work programmes to support GMP implementation.
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