Dr Daniel Collins is a hydrologist at NIWA. He formed the Waiology blog to bring together commentary on New Zealand's freshwater systems. The blog features commentary from numerous contributors.

Thinking about water in Auckland - Waiology

Apr 02, 2013

By Roger Bannister When most people think of Auckland they think of the metropolitan areas, a city containing a third of New Zealand’s population. In fact the Auckland region is a predominantly rural landscape, with rural land uses accounting for 90% of the land area. The contrast of concentrated population and rural activities – horticulture, pastoral farming plantation forestry and native forests – makes the management of water resources a challenge, even more so when considering that most of our water bodies drain into one of three major harbours. The introduction of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) and a number of other Council-led initiatives, including a Water Strategic Action Plan and Marine Spatial Planning, creates the opportunity to better manage our fresh and coastal waters by catering to the specific needs of catchments and communities … Read More

The evolution of freshwater management under the RMA - Waiology

Mar 28, 2013

By Nicola de Wit The enactment of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) combined around 70 pieces of legislation into one central environmental planning statute. The integration of a number of fragmented regimes was a significant step forward for environmental management in New Zealand. The RMA was also significant for its incorporation of the principle of sustainability; the purpose of the RMA is to promote the ‘sustainable management’ of natural and physical resources. Ahuriri River, Otago. (Credit: R. Peart, EDS)The RMA is consistently described as world-leading legislation – so why has freshwater quality been declining so rapidly in our lowland streams and rivers? The Act contains two key protections for water. First, it allows people to take and use water for their reasonable domestic needs and to provide drinking water for animals, but it prevents people … Read More

Evolution of water governance models in New Zealand - Waiology

Mar 27, 2013

By Bryan Jenkins In her work that won her the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics, Elinor Ostrom identified three types of governance models for common pool resources like water. One is the “Leviathan model” where there is direct government provision of services with integration of policy making and operational functions. The second is the “privatisation model” where there is private sector provision of services with government role as regulator. The third is the self-governing community model where there is community determination of resource management requirements. We have seen the evolution of these different models in western countries. After WW2, the welfare state was the dominant approach of government. In relation to water management in NZ, the Ministry of Works had the prime responsibility for water management – a classic example of a Leviathan governance model. In the … Read More

Trust, as much as science, is at the heart of water management - Waiology

Mar 25, 2013

By Chris Arbuckle For many years now “Water User Groups” (WUG’s) have done a great job implementing community-based water management initiatives. And they have achieved this with the assistance of organizations such as the Landcare Trust, Crown Research Institutes, non-government agencies and regional councils. Projects on the Waituna Lagoon, Upper Taieri River and Aorere Catchment attest to this. They were formed because a community of people desired practical action to address concerns about environmental change. Usually a champion has encouraged a group of interested people to form around an issue to seek a solution. In the main this is all done voluntarily, for the well-being of the water resource and community, and by someone with great charisma to drive it through. Upper Taieri River, Central Otago (Credit: C. Arbuckle).Of the three main recommendations in … Read More

Managing our freshwater resources in a changing climate - Waiology

Mar 22, 2013

By Daniel Collins While water management is challenging enough as it is, climate change makes it harder. No longer can we rely solely on experiences from the past to guide our actions, but we must also consider forecasts of the future. And with New Zealand’s water resources expected to change in the coming decades – well within resource management planning horizons – it would be prudent to start to adapt sooner than later. So how does climate change affect the ways water may be governed, and how are current governance systems placed to deal with climate change? Map of projected freshwater impacts of climate change. First up, let’s review the potential effects. As the climate changes, temperatures are expected to rise and rainfall patterns shift both regionally and seasonally. This would result in more flow in some … Read More

Happy World Water Day! - Waiology

Mar 22, 2013

By Daniel Collins World Water Day is held annually on 22 March to focus people’s attention on freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Championed by the United Nations, each year is dedicated to a different theme. This year’s theme is cooperation (“water, water everywhere, but only if we share”), and it is for this reason that for the month of March, Waiology has been running the series on water governance. Already we have read insightful commentary and analysis from across New Zealand, each time giving some thought to the role of science in the process of water governance. But there is plenty more to come. In fact, we have so much that the series will have to spill over into April. So how will you commemorate World Water Day? Here are 10 ideas: … Read More

The National Parks of our waterways: Do they have any future under proposed Government reforms? - Waiology

Mar 20, 2013

By Neil Deans Water Conservation Orders (WCOs) are statutory tools used to protect waterbodies of outstanding value nationally – rivers, lakes, and wetlands – much like mountains and coasts are protected by National Parks. They preserve or protect outstanding features such as fisheries, wildlife, Maori, cultural, recreational, wild and scenic or scientific values. They are to exist in perpetuity, unless amended. Confluence of Kawarau and Clutha Rivers and old Cromwell, before and after the formation of Lake Dunstan created by completion of the Clyde Dam in 1992, Otago.The WCO sets out necessary restrictions on water use so that the outstanding resource is maintained, such as prohibitions on damming, maintenance of river flows and water quality, and restrictions on in-river works. This process granting WCO protection is arguably more robust – and certainly more independent – than that required … Read More

The legitimate use of science in managing water - Waiology

Mar 18, 2013

By Ian MacKenzie The Government has just released the discussion paper “Freshwater Reform 2013 and beyond“. It has three main recommendations: establish a national objectives framework, allow for collaborative community planning, and manage within quality and quantity limits using best industry practices. All three of these need sound information, preferably undisputed, and based on sound interpretation of the underlying science. Interestingly, we are not in a position yet to implement a national objectives framework as we need more information on the values and water body types (p29 of the report). Similarly, for communities to develop their own water plans, they will need a huge amount of information. In Canterbury, where collaborative governance is being pioneered through “zone committees“, support staff are struggling to provide the information required to enable sound decision-making. This is especially evident in the … Read More

Who owns water? Māori or the Crown? - Waiology

Mar 15, 2013

By Jacinta Ruru Water governance is tricky at the best of times. As we all know, water is fundamentally important to the welfare of people, plants, livestock, farming activities, industry and power generation, it has an increasing economic value, and it moves in a flowing nature. But water is also uniquely important to Māori for the simple reasons that Māori derive part of their identity from water (tupuna awa – water ancestors) and view water as a taonga (treasure) with its own mauri (life force). For more than 100 years, Māori have politically and legally sought to retain responsibilities to care for water. Several statutes now provide Maori with an anchor to participate in water governance. For example, the Resource Management Act 1991 directs Regional Councils to recognise and provide for the relationship of Māori and their … Read More

Water governance and the RMA - Waiology

Mar 13, 2013

By Steve Couper Deteriorating water quality is consistently rated by many New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern. Their concern is well placed. Some of our lowland waterways are now so badly polluted that the ‘clean green’ brand we promote is being actively challenged. The evidence for declining environmental health in these waterways is strong. Monitoring 77 sites along 35 rivers, the National River Water Quality Network (NRWQN) shows an overall decline in water quality since its inception in 1989. While the bulk of this deterioration has been caused by diffuse pollution from intensification of agricultural land use, the waterways running through our urban environments are the most degraded. Urban dwellers are in no position to point the finger at “dirty dairying.” The purpose of the Resource Management Act is set out in section 5. Read More