News and Views

Canterbury mayors committed to the CWMS

Canterbury mayors have reaffirmed their commitment to collaborative management of the region’s freshwater through the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).

“Canterbury is a standout region simply for having all the mayors, their councils and the Regional Council absolutely united on a water strategy. It is a considerable commitment and has been held up as a model for others to follow, Environment Canterbury chair Steve Lowndes says.

Setting new goals

The Mayoral Forum has also adopted challenging new goals for 2025 and 2030 and has charged Environment Canterbury with working with Councils and other partners to resource and implement solutions for those goals.

Resourcing will need to be carefully considered by councils as part of their Annual Plan and Long-Term Plan processes, in consultation with their communities.

“A fit for the future project was undertaken to account for the progress we have made since the CWMS was first adopted in 2009, and the enhanced science and knowledge now available.

It has confirmed the CWMS is working well and the goals and related actions have been updated. The strategy now has 131 additional goals for 2025 and 2030 with numerous proposed actions across the work programme.

These prioritise the results the community has asked for and takes account of emerging issues such as climate change,” Steve Lowndes says.

“It’s also encouraging that the Government’s measures to increase the pace of water quality improvement over the next five years, announced a few months ago, very much align with the Canterbury approach. That further reaffirms our approach as the right one.

How does the CWMS work?

Under the CWMS, 10 local zone committees with council, community and rūnunga members provide recommendations to Environment Canterbury on how to best address issues at a local level.

These can result in local rules in the form of plan changes that control certain activities in order to deliver the results the community requires.

“The zone committees, industry and stakeholders have made strong progress through setting limits on nutrient losses and water use. Our rivers are recovering, some faster and better than others, and we welcome the prospect of additional support to accelerate that progress as much as we are able.

The primary sector has been the main implementor of change to date, through initiatives such as Good Management Practice and associated nutrient limits.

As well as Good Management Practice, land-use consents to farm and Farm Environment Plans and have been introduced, and independent auditors of those plans certified.

A big part of that work has been supporting the rural sector to work to those limits,” Steve Lowndes says.

“Those who say farmers aren’t contributing to environmental management in our region really should go and talk to a farmer to better understand the obligations required of them to address these important issues for the benefit of everybody.

Commitment and collaboration

“Water is a big deal in Canterbury, and there is plenty more we still need to do. We know that in many cases, nitrate levels are going to get worse before they get better, and some places are of greater concern than others.

Some of the issues we are addressing will take some time to fix, but we are making good progress.

The commitment and collaboration that are at the heart of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy are our two best weapons in doing that,” Steve Lowndes says.

Source: Environment Canterbury

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