Essential Freshwater package

Decorative banner image

What is Essential Freshwater?

We all need and interact with water, water is life, so the concepts and policies we talk about across this site are applicable to all of us.

In 2020, the national direction for protecting, enhancing and preventing further damage to waterways, lakes and streams was announced by the Minister for the Environment. The Essential Freshwater package signalled where changes to freshwater management would be made.

Horizons Regional Council works in partnership with tangata whenua and communities to protect and enhance our region’s waterways. These waterways are a vital resource; they are crucial to our environmental, economic, social and cultural wellbeing.

Central government’s Essential Freshwater package includes new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F), a revised National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (2020) (NPS-FM), new stock exclusion regulations, and three amendments to the Resource Management Act.

The NPS-FM is about regional councils partnering with tangata whenua and consulting with communities and stakeholders to determine our regional direction for freshwater. By December 2027 we will notify a revision to our One Plan, the document that determines resource management for the region (see below for more information). The public will be able to make submissions on the notified Plan, which will be handed to a hearings panel convened by the Chief Freshwater Commissioner. The freshwater hearings panel will make recommendations for Council to consider.

The national policy statement places freshwater at the front of decision making.

Te Mana o te Wai is the building block of the NPS-FM. It recognises that protecting the health of freshwater protects the health and wellbeing of the wider environment. We are working with iwi/hapū to determine what this means for our region.

Over the next two years, our region’s residents will have the chance to share their thoughts about the future management of freshwater. Check out our previous engagements and share your thoughts on how we can care for this precious resource now and for future generations.

The One Plan is the 'one-stop-shop' resource management planning document for the Horizons Region, combining the Regional Policy Statement, Regional Plan and Regional Coastal Plan. It defines how the natural and physical resources of the region, including land and freshwater, will be cared for and managed by Horizons Regional Council, with our community partners. It was notified in 2007 and became operative in 2014.

Part I is the Regional Policy Statement. It sets out regionally significant resource management issues, and outlines objectives, policies and methods that will address them.

Part II is the Regional Plan, which includes the rules for natural and physical resource use in the Region.

The NPS-FM previously required us to notify a change to the One Plan by 31 December 2024. However, central government changes mean this is now required by 31 December 2027. This plan change will consider all One Plan provisions that relate to freshwater management.

Visit the Horizons Regional Council website to access the One Plan and the documents that shaped it.

You can also find out about other current plan change processes, including those for nutrient management and urban development, on the Council's website.