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Freshwater update on NPSFM and Freshwater NES - August 2020

11 August 2020

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPSFM 2020), National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (Freshwater NES) and new water metering regulations were released Wednesday 5 August and will come into force on 3 September 2020. The NPSFM 2020 and Freshwater NES give effect to the Government’s freshwater policy announcements in May 2020 - summarised on our website here.

You can read the Minister for the Environment, David Parker’s full media release here.   HortNZ has welcomed the Government’s recognition of the importance of vegetable growing.  You can read our media release here.

HortNZ will continue to work with the Government on the freshwater reforms through our involvement in the drafting of the supporting regulations. 


What does this mean for growers?

NPSFM 2020 - this does not have an immediate impact for growers, but Councils must notify a freshwater plan no later than 31 December 2024 to give effect to the NPSFM 2020.

From 3 September, the NPSFM 2020 will replace the existing NPSFM 2014 (amended 2017). The NPSFM sets out the framework for how regional councils must manage freshwater in their regional plans – including that Councils must set limits through regional rules to meet environmental outcomes (determined with consultation with the community) and to meet national bottom lines.


Specific recognition of vegetable growing in defined areas of Pukekohe and Horowhenua

  • Specific sub-catchments in Horowhenua and Pukekohe(described in the NPSFM – Appendix 5) are recognised in the NPSFM in relation to domestic food supply and food security.
  • In these areas, a regional council may set a water quality target that is below a national bottom line. However, water quality cannot degrade further, and water quality targets still need to ensure that water quality is improved.
  • This policy applies for a period of 10 years or until a vegetable specific National Environmental Standard is introduced.


Freshwater NES – new rules apply in relation to activities in and near natural wetlands and other activities in rivers.

  • The main provisions of relevance for horticulture is those relating to vegetation clearance, earthworks or land disturbance for a horticultural and use within 10m of natural wetlands (clause 50), and standards for other river works (e.g. culverts and other in river strictures, river reclamation).

The NES also includes standards for farming activities which are not relevant to horticulture – i.e. standards for feedlots, stockholding areas and intensive winter grazing, and temporary standards for conversation to a pastoral or dairy farm land use.


Farm Environment Plans

The NES does not include Farm Environment Plan requirements. These now sit in the Resource Management Act (RMA) and are not in force until regulation has been made to define the exact requirements for mandatory freshwater modules of farm plans and how these requirements apply across the country.


Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes Regulations – new real-time electronic measurements apply (with phased implementation period)

  • These regulations have been amended to require holders of a resource consent to take more than five litres per second of water to measure their water use every 15 minutes, store their records, and electronically submit their records to their council every day.
  • These requirements take effect two years after the regulations come into force for consents to take >20 litres per second; four years for consents to take 10-20 litres per second; and six years after for consents to take ≥5 litres per second.


For more information: