Horizons Regional Council is seeking community feedback on provisional targets set for freshwater in the region via an online survey at freshwater.horizons.govt.nz by 13 December.
Through previous engagement between April 2022 and July 2023, the council sought feedback on visions and values for freshwater in the Horizons Region, as well as primary contact sites, outstanding water bodies and water allocation. This is the next step of the broader Oranga Wai process, which is Horizons’ approach to implementing central government's National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 and will result in a revised One Plan.
Horizons group manager strategy, regulation and science Dr Lizzie Daly says this round of engagement is about aligning community aspirations for rivers and streams with provisional water quality targets.
“We have taken feedback from our communities around what their visions are for freshwater in the future – for example, our streams being home to thriving communities of tūna and other native fish, or the awa being a great place to swim during summer – and indicated what could be required in terms of improving water quality to achieve those goals,” says Dr Daly.
“The target states are provisional – Council has yet to make any decisions or propose moving forward with these water quality targets so community input into the process is crucial to assist with those decisions.
“The feedback we are requesting includes questions about how targets were set and if the visions and community outcomes which influence the targets are ambitious and reasonable. We are also asking for thoughts on timeframes, actions and impacts to achieve the provisional targets.”
Dr Daly says Horizons recognises this is not a simple topic to provide feedback on, so people will find supporting information at freshwater.horizons.govt.nz to help them answer the questions in the survey.
“This includes an explanation on how targets were set, maps that show the provisional targets and magnitude of change required for each part of the region, and descriptions of the actions suggested to improve water quality. The scientific reports that have informed the targets and actions are available as well.
“We are also hosting a public roadshow across the region between 2-22 November which is an opportunity for communities to hear about all of this from our staff and ask questions. Due to the quantity of information needed to help people answer the survey we aren’t able to offer a non-digital method of engagement but those who attend the roadshow and hear the targets information from staff will be able to take hard copies of the survey away to fill in.”
Dr Daly says she encourages all communities to take a look at the engagement and head along to the roadshow because this is a key opportunity to influence awa and stream health into the future.
“The information we are sharing now is a reflection of where we are at in the policy development process and it will continue to evolve. Now is an opportunity to check in with our communities and gather their thoughts on work to date.
“There is further work to do before decisions are made and there will be future opportunities for communities to have a say on how we achieve our desired environmental outcomes together.
“Feedback to date, now, and in the future, will help us develop policies that will sustain the mauri (life force) of waterways and their ecosystems, protect the places we treasure for generations, and provide for the wellbeing of communities within environmental limits.”
To find more information about roadshow details, what we’ve done in the Oranga Wai process to date and freshwater in the Horizons Region, as well as to register for an e-newsletter so you can stay up to date, visit freshwater.horizons.govt.nz.