New approach for freshwater
After three years of learning, collaborating and thinking laterally, the Regional Forum has provides a suite of recommendations on how to protect and restore Southland’s freshwater.
We’re proud of the result,” Fiona Smith, forum chair says. “We’ve designed a new approach for how Southlanders will use freshwater resources.”
The Regional Forum delivered its report and recommendations to Environment Southland and the Te Ao Mārama Inc board in July. The forum was tasked with looking at how to achieve the communities’ aspirations for freshwater.
“Forum members have given hundreds of hours to this process because we all believe it is the right thing to do. Southland has a huge challenge that we need to do something about now if we are to have any hope of getting our freshwater quality back, returning Te Mana o te Wai,” Fiona says.
She says the process has been a journey of learning for herself, and she knows other forum members have also had profound shifts in their thinking.
“At the centre of our approach to our work has been our respect for our communities. We had an incredibly important task, and we’ve come together and delivered something every forum member supports – and we think can make a difference to Southland’s future.”
Topics the Regional Forum has paid particular attention to are partnership approaches and integrated catchment management, the role of wetlands, repurposing land for greater ecological benefit, and industrial and urban water management.
“In the report we recognise the recommendations will come at significant financial cost, collectively and individually. There is always a temptation to say ‘we can’t afford it’ and delay until a time which is more suitable. The reality is that every delay will increase both the cost to the environment and the effort required to fix it.
“So the forum’s challenge to the region is: ‘If not now, when?’. “We have worked our way through the huge challenges this project set us, and we firmly believe what we’re recommending will give our children, grandchildren and future generations the freshwater we deserve.
“Now it’s over to Environment Southland and Te Ao Mārama Inc to lead the region into a better future with freshwater that we can become proud of.”
The report will help inform a plan change to the Southland Water and Land Plan, known as Plan Change Tuatahi, which will include the setting of limits for discharges to and abstractions from waterways.
To read the report, visit the Regional Forum webpage – https://waterandland.es.govt.nz/regional-forum