Horizons freshwater targets engagement

What DairyNZ is doing Key concerns What you need to do Next steps Questions and additional resources

Horizons Regional Council has consulted on targets for rivers and streams to set the direction for future changes to the One Plan. The Council’s modelling suggests some significant contaminant reductions will be required.

DairyNZ supports the need to improve water quality outcomes across the Horizons region, where current water quality state does not meet community expectations.

What DairyNZ is doing

DairyNZ has significant concerns with the approach Horizons is using to estimate the reductions required to meet targets. We have outlined this and other concerns in our formal feedback to Horizons and continue to communicate with the council on key issues. We will keep you informed of our progress.

Key concerns and what this means for you

The key concerns DairyNZ has on the information provided by Horizons are:

  • That these reductions pose huge costs to farming in the Horizons region, which will have significant flow-on effects not just for individual farms but also the communities surrounding them and the broader regional economy.
  • That the council should consider long-term timeframes (i.e., multi-generational) to provide a clear direction while enabling time to transition. Steps towards these long-term timeframes (every 10 years) will help make reductions reasonable but ambitious. Timeframes around 80 to 100 years allow the transition to play out over multiple generations.
  • That the model outputs used to estimate the reductions needed have not been validated against measured data. For example, measured periphyton biomass in many water management subzones (WMSZ) is currently meeting the proposed target attribute state, and yet the ‘model’ is indicating large reductions are required.
  • That the Natural Form and Character value has been applied to all waterbodies which requires a minimum B band target attribute state for periphyton. We are concerned that this is more stringent than the minimum default grade for ecosystem health that was proposed in the Cawthron report. This value would be better directed towards waterbodies with high value form or character that have been identified by the community.

What do you need to do now?

Horizons engagement round closed on 28 February 2024. For more information visit Oranga Wai | Water quality targets

Keep an eye out on the outcomes of the engagement on the targets and next steps for the One Plan development.

What are the next steps?

Central Government announced in December 2023 an intention to replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM 2020) over the next 18-24 months. Due to this, the date that councils are required to notify a freshwater plan change has been extended by three years, to 31 December 2027, leaving more time for regional councils and communities for this work.

Find out more about the changes to freshwater regulations proposed by central Government.

Horizons is yet to decide on how it may use the extended deadline in their notification timeframes.

DairyNZ will continue to communicate our key points to Horizons, as well as develop economic analysis to support our positions. We will keep you informed of our progress.

Questions on this topic?

DNZ contact person:
Anna Sing
Senior Regional Policy Advisor

Last updated: Mar 2024
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