Managing freshwater better

Nelson City Council manages freshwater on behalf of our community and we understand our lakes, rivers and wetlands are precious and important to us all for different reasons.

In August 2020, Central Government released its Essential Freshwater package, which introduced new policies and rules for freshwater management.

The Essential Freshwater package aims to:

  • Stop further degradation of freshwater.
  • Start making immediate improvements so water quality improves within five years.
  • Reverse past damage to bring waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.

As a part of the Essential Freshwater package we are required to develop a new freshwater plan for our region by December 2027.

More information about the Essential Freshwater package can be found here: Essential Freshwater.

Roding River upper catchment

Nelson's Freshwater Management

Nelson's freshwater water bodies include:

  • Urban streams (streams which mainly flow through an urban environment - Oldham Creek, Brook Stream, York Stream, Jenkins Creek, Arapiki Stream, Poorman Valley Stream, Orchard Creek, Orphanage Creek, lower Maitai River and Brook Stream).
  • Rural rivers and streams including those in forestry catchments (for example: Whangamoa, Wakapuaka, upper Maitai and many smaller streams).
  • Rivers, streams and tributaries (such as the Roding, Maitai South Branch).
  • Artificial lakes and reservoirs (Maitai Dam reservoir and rural reservoirs).
  • Wetlands (limited to Rush Pool, Dew Lakes, the Wakapuaka River and Whangamoa River flats at the river mouth, and the Wakapuaka Sand Flats at the head of the Haven).
  • Springs and groundwater likely to be linked to surface water.

Activities involving water or water bodies are only allowed by a rule in a regional plan, or by resource consent. Existing freshwater rules in the Nelson Resource Management Plan address five main areas:

  • Activities and structures in and near waterbodies.
  • Natural charter, amenity and public access.
  • Aquatic biodiversity.
  • Water flows and allocation.
  • Water quality.

More information about Council's existing freshwater rules can be found here: Freshwater Management.

Between 2014 and 2020 the Council undertook a Plan review to replace the current Nelson Resource Management Plan (NRMP). The Whakamahere Whakatū Nelson Plan (Nelson Plan) sought to replace all of Nelson’s current operative resource management plans with a single, updated plan addressing all of Council’s obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991 and the previous National Policy Statement for Freshwater (NPSFM) 2014 (amended 2017).

The older version of the NPSFM required Council to identify values and attributes for freshwater, and to set water quality and flow limits in consultation with the community and tangata whenua. A draft plan was released for public comment in 2020.

More information about the draft Nelson Plan can be found here: Whakamahere Whakatū Nelson Plan.

Five freshwater management units (FMUs) are being proposed for Whakatū Nelson – Stoke, Roding, Maitai, Wakapuaka and Whangamoa.

  • Stoke – is a group of small, coastal streams flowing into the Waimea Inlet, including Saxton and Jenkins Creeks, and Orphanage, Orchard, Poorman Valley, Arapiki, and Maire Streams;
  • Roding – the upper catchment of the Roding River within the Nelson City Council boundary (the lower catchment is within Tasman District Council’s boundary and management);
  • Maitai – all streams flowing into Nelson Haven including the Mahitahi/Maitahi/Maitai and its tributaries, and York, Oldham, Todds Valley and Hillwood Streams;
  • Wakapuaka – includes the main river and streams flowing into the Wakapuaka Estuary and Delaware Bay, along with some small catchments discharging to the coast outside of Delaware Bay;
  • Whangamoa – includes the main river and all streams in the northern part of the region flowing into Kōkorua Estuary, neighbouring bays and the coast.

We think these FMUs provide a practical approach to managing freshwater across the region and will allow rules and regulations to be applied to waterbodies in an integrated way.

A report representing a summary of the values identified for the sub-catchments within each FMU can be found here: Whakatū Nelson freshwater sub-catchment summary.

Shaping the Freshwater Plan

The feedback we received from tangata whenua and the community during the draft Nelson Plan process gave us some great input which we've used to create draft visions for our five FMUs.

Long-term visions for each of Nelson's Freshwater Management Units

Freshwater visions are statements about what we want our freshwater water bodies to be, and to look like, in the future. An easy way to imagine it is to think about what condition we want Nelson’s freshwater rivers and streams to be in for our grandchildren and for their grandchildren.

Long-term visions for freshwater must be ambitious but achievable, with goals that support the health and well-being of freshwater. They must be informed by the history of the FMU they represent, and be informed by our shared and diverse views. The visions will direct what the new freshwater framework seeks to achieve.

Values for each of Nelson's Freshwater Management Units

A value is what you consider important about freshwater. It can be anything from mahinga kai practices (food gathering) and recreational activities, to water quality and habitat health. The National Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPSFM) has already identified four compulsory values which we will build on in recognition of local knowledge and traditional Māori practices. These values are:

  • Ecosystem health (considering water quality, water quantity, habitat, aquatic life, and ecological processes that indicate a healthy aquatic environment)
  • Human contact (enabling people to connect with and enjoy the water)
  • Threatened species (critical habitats and conditions necessary to support the presence, abundance, survival, and recovery of threatened aquatic life)
  • Mahinga kai (providing food for the people that is safe to harvest and eat, and keeping the mauri (lifeforce) of the place intact).

There are a number of other values that we need to consider and see how they apply to our region. Knowing what’s important about freshwater to the community will enable Council to set environmental outcomes that will be formalised as objectives in the Freshwater Plan.

For each FMU we are asked for your feedback and what level of importance you place on the cultural, environmental, social, and economic values that we must consider, as well as the additional values identified through the Nelson Plan process.

Find out more about each FMU and the draft visions and value sets, using the links below.

Tangata whenua identified the following values of importance: kaitiakitanga, mauri, wairua, wai māori, he ara haere/navigation. These values are currently being considered through a separate process. Further information about the process can be found here: Eight Iwi and Three Council's Partnership.

Nelson's Freshwater Management Units

Public Information: All feedback (including your name and contact details) will be provided to Council officers for administration and analysing feedback, and to those who are involved in any decision-making for this project.

All feedback, including submitters names (unless you request otherwise), but not contact details, may be publicly available online. Note: Council is subject to the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 and a request for official information may cover your feedback, including your address and other contact details.