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Canterbury Water Management Strategy

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The Canterbury Water Management Strategy is based on a shared vision for managing freshwater, and sets environmental, social, cultural, and economic targets for the coming five, 10 and 30 years.

The Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) is a framework for the integrated management of Canterbury’s freshwater resources.

CWMS marks a huge change in how we deal with water issues. It provides a shared vision – developed over many years via extensive public consultation – to protect our fresh water for generations to come.

CWMS has been implemented since 2010 following several years of collaborative work by the Mayoral Forum, the Steering Group, Environment Canterbury and the region's 10 territorial authorities.

Environment Canterbury is working with Ngai Tahu, other councils and stakeholders to implement the CWMS.

Regional Implementation Programme

The Canterbury Water Regional Committee considers regional issues of environmental restoration and repair, land use impacts on water quality, as well as water storage, distribution and efficiency options.

The Regional Implementation Programme (RIP) was prepared by the committee following a wide-ranging process of engagement including public meetings, stakeholder meetings, and feedback from people and organisations with an interest in water management.

The Regional Implementation Programme identifies four priority areas which need to be addressed at a regional level to meet the targets in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy:

  • Kaitiakitanga

  • Ecosystem health and biodiversity

  • Land use and water quality

  • Regional infrastructure.

Environment Canterbury received and endorsed the Regional Implementation Programme of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy at its council meeting on 31 May 2012.

Selwyn-Waihora Zone Committee

The Selwyn-Waihora Zone Committee was established in October 2010 to work with its community to develop a programme of recommendations to give effect to the goals and principles of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

In July 2011 the committee held public meetings to provide an update on progress being made and seek feedback on the draft priorities for water management. This feedback was taken into consideration when the committee refined its water management priorities to feed into its Zone Implementation Programme (ZIP).

Selwyn-Waihora Zone Implementation Programme

The Zone Implementation Programme outlines the actions, responsibilities and timeframes for activities to achieve the principles, targets, and goals set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

The final Selwyn-Waihora Zone Implementation Programme was finalised and formally presented to Environment Canterbury to endorse at its council meeting in December 2011. The ZIP was also endorsed by the Selwyn District and Christchurch City Councils.

More recently the focus for the committee has been on water quality limit setting processes in the zone.

Selwyn-Waihora Limit Setting Project

This is a collaborative process to set minimum flows, allocation and nutrient load limits for the Selwyn-Waihora catchment. The recommendations will become rules within the Selwyn-Waihora sub-regional chapter of the Land and Water Regional Plan.

A key part of the limit setting process is the technical analysis around the environmental, economic, social and cultural consequences of differing land-use scenarios.

The limit setting process is based on five scenarios, designed around a set of plausible future land use changes, chosen by the Selwyn-Waihora Zone Committee.

These scenarios are being modelled to provide information on the environmental, cultural, social and economic consequences of possible land use changes.

A multi stakeholder deliberation process using the priority outcomes and associated indicators in the Zone Implementation Programme will inform the Zone Committee of the acceptability of these consequences and any issues that may arise.

The limit setting project relies on the involvement of a number of key groups.

The Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee is recognised as the core group responsible for recommending limits within their zone. They will direct and contribute to the limit setting process in a number of ways:

  1. The scenarios will be informed by the priority outcomes and recommended actions identified in the Zone Implementation Programme.

  2. Zone Committee members will champion and oversee a series of focus groups with stakeholders from the zone. The Zone Committee will listen to and explore the thoughts and values of participants in the focus groups as they deliberate the various scenarios.

  3. The Zone Committee will then utilise the information obtained through the modelling and Focus Group deliberations and have a formal dialogue around limits.

  4. Recommendations on limits and mechanisms to achieve these limits will be made to the Co-Governance Board and Environment Canterbury Commissioners.

Tangata Whenua will be actively involved in the process at all levels:

  1. Through the Te Waihora Co-Governance Group functions

  2. As members of the Zone Committee

  3. Participation as a focus group

  4. Through a COMAR (Cultural Opportunities Mapping Assessment and Response) analysis, involving all R┼źnanga

Focus groups have been established to undertake deliberations for each scenario.

The Focus Group’s role is to evaluate the acceptability or not of each of the scenarios, based on their values.

The modelling (environmental, economic, cultural and social) of scenarios provides the Focus Group members involved, with the technical information they need to form a view.

People will also be drawing on their experiences, values, background and vision for the future.

The wide range of stakeholders should provide diverse opinions on the scenarios. This diversity of viewpoints will be captured and provided to the Zone Committee to help members make recommendations on water quality and quantity limits and how to meet them.

Stakeholder focus groups contain between four and eight people. A 'coordinator' for each group has been nominated and they are available to answer questions members of the community may have about the process.

Alternatively you can contact ECan staff members directly.


Initial workshops with the Zone committee and Focus Groups took place in December 2011. The aims were to introduce the timeline and process for developing water quality and quantity limits in 2012 and discuss the roles of the Zone Committee and Focus Groups.

Feedback was sought and received on draft land use scenarios to be modelled for their consequences on environmental, social, economic and cultural values.

To date workshops have been held to deliberate the current state and two future scenarios:

  1. an extra 30,000ha or irrigation and

  2. a Trophic Level Index (TLI) of 6 in Te Waihora.

Information regarding these and future workshops can be found on the Meet your representatives page of the website.

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