The RMA and Water Quality

There are a number of significant freshwater issues in the Resource Management Act (RMA) reform legislation that is currently before Parliament.

You can help by discussion these issues with your local MP. Some points you might like to make are: 

Collaborative processes are a way of dealing with problems where there are high levels of competition from a range of stakeholders. Freshwater management is such a problem. However, the RMA Amendment Bill proposes to open collaborative processes to planning on a wide range of issues. If this happens, the membership and focus of the group will become very diffuse and its ability to resolve key issues will be severely compromised. This could seriously undermine the potential for well managed collaborative processes to resolve key land and water management issues.

Section 104 of the RMA deals with resource consent decisions. Rather than requiring that consented activities must ‘give effect” to water quality and water take limits – Section 104 only requires that decision makers ‘have regard to’ those limits. As a result, we are seeing authorities approving consent after consent that individually and in combination exceed the limits. This is a major but easily fixed anomaly.

The Bill also proposes to allow activities that breach a Plan rule in a “marginal or temporary” way to be treated as a permitted activity – this will render such rules pointless and will obviously undermine the enforcement of water limits.