Over a third of the Wellington Region is native forest or scrubland and agriculture occupies approximately half of the land area, which is made up mainly of sheep and beef farming. Dairying is undertaken in about five percent of the region, and forestry covers eight percent.
Pressures on river and stream water quality in the Wellington region range from specific discharges (mainly town and city wastewater), as well as impacts from intensive land use and urban storm water runoff. In some areas, water taken for drinking or economic activity worsens these impacts.
Overall, water quality in the region is highest at sites located on cool wet, hill-fed river and stream locations. It is generally poorer in lower parts of rivers under native forest cover and poorer again at sites located in farming areas, especially at some sites that drain from dairy farms. Water quality is however at its worst at sites that urban areas drain into.