The Canterbury Water Management Strategy Targets Progress Report 2015 has been released by Environment Canterbury.

 “The report is significant as 2015 was set as a milestone for measuring progress against the Targets when the Strategy was agreed in 2009,” said David Caygill, Environment Canterbury Commissioner with particular responsibility for water.

The report shows considerable progress in many of the 10 broad target areas that make up the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  It presents information graphically and uses information from different sources in a way that is intended to provide new insights in how are making improvements.

For instance Figure 1.1 shows the progress in setting environmental limits across 13 catchments in Canterbury.  Progress against the two relevant 2015 Targets – to set environmental flows and to set catchment load limits – is assessed in the report as ‘achieving’.

CWMS Targets

“This diagram shows how the Strategy has fundamentally changed how we work.  We now start with a local zone committee leading a community discussion and reaching agreed recommendations on water issues which are then tested before independent public hearings.

“The areas in which we have the most progress – such as Selwyn-Waihora and Hinds Plains – are arguably areas with the greatest water quality issues and pressure for development.

“While the report is an assessment by Environment Canterbury we have also talked with and sought information from other people and organisations involved in the Strategy.

“The report is being presented and discussed at the 11 water management committee meetings over the coming month and we look forward to discussing with people their views about the assessments in the report, how we can make further progress, and how we can better capture relevant information for future progress reports.

“The Strategy was agreed to improve water quality and ecosystem health while at the same time providing for economic growth through better water use and irrigation.

“Obviously this challenge is not easy but it reflects the wide range of views and aspirations that went into developing the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and the Targets,” said David Caygill.

“The report shows that while we are well on the way to achieving the Strategy’s Targets there is still plenty to be done if we are to meet 2020 and 2040 milestones. 

“It is also important to also acknowledge the huge commitment made by the many people and organisations involved in ensuring the Canterbury Water Management Strategy is a success.”

A PDF of the report is available here.

What are the Targets?

The Targets, which were completed in June 2010, came from an extended process of stakeholder engagement, public consultation and joint collaboration with farming, recreation, conservation and environmental groups, Ngāi Tahu, City and District Councils and Environment Canterbury.

They are an agreed way to progress water quality and ecosystem improvements throughout Canterbury.  A key component of the Strategy was the inclusion of goals for 2010, 2015, and 2020 as well as in 2040.

The Targets cover 10 broad areas:

  1. Ecosystem health/biodiversity
  2. Natural character of braided rivers
  3. Kaitiakitanga
  4. Drinking water
  5. Recreational and amenity opportunities
  6. Water-use efficiency
  7. Irrigated land area
  8. Energy security and efficiency
  9. Regional and national economies
  10. Environmental limits (see figure 1.1)

Each of the 10 zone committees and the Regional Committee set up as part of the Strategy are charged with ‘giving effect to’ the Targets in their area.

This happens through zone implementation programmes which contain recommendations to Environment Canterbury and the relevant District Councils.  Those recommendations which require the preparation of formal rules are then drafted and notified by Environment Canterbury in accordance with the Resource Management Act.

The zone committees – made up of community members, rūnanga and council representatives – work with local stakeholders and the community to find enduring solutions. There is also a Regional Committee that considers regional issues of environmental restoration and repair; land use impacts on water quality; as well as water storage, distribution and efficiency options.