Policy 1: Management of Water Bodies
Manage all water bodies to enable a range of water use activities, whilst ensuring that a net improvement in water quality across the Region is achieved over time through:
Policy 2: Managing Degraded1 Water Bodies
Enhance the quality of degraded water through improved management of activities that affect water bodies so that::
Policy 3: Natural Character
Recognise, and where relevant provide for, the following characteristics when considering the preservation of the natural character of lakes and rivers and their margins and the protection of them from inappropriate use and development:
Policy 4: Waikato Region Surface Water Class
Enable the use of all surface water bodies in the Region, provided that:
Policy 5: Natural State Water Class
The purpose of the natural state water class is to protect the flow regime, water quality and riparian and aquatic habitat for indigenous species in order to maintain the aesthetic and intrinsic values derived from the unmodified or largely unmodified nature of the catchment. These are outstanding waterbodies and important habitats because they are unmodified or substantially unmodified by human intervention.
Policy 6: Contact Recreation Water Class
The purpose of the contact recreation class is to provide a safe water quality environment for contact recreation in all rivers, streams, and lakes with significant contact recreational use by:
Policy 7: Fishery Class
The purpose of the fishery class is to maintain or enhance existing water quality and aquatic habitat in water bodies that currently support a diverse range of fish species and fish habitats with significant conservation values2, or which support significant recreational, traditional or commercial fisheries so that for these fisheries, trout or indigenous fish can complete their life cycles and/or maintain self-sustaining populations and managed trout and indigenous fisheries can be sustained.
This will include consideration of the need to:
Policy 8: Reasonable Mixing
The zone of reasonable mixing is the area within which a discharge into water (including any discharge that occurs subsequent to a discharge onto or into land) does not need to achieve the standards specified in the water management class for the receiving water body. The size of the mixing zone must be minimised as far as is practicable and will be determined on a case-by-case basis, including consideration of the following matters:
Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting the Policies
The policies and water management classes detailed in this Chapter have been developed as an overarching policy framework for managing aspects of the Region’s surface waters addressed by Objective 3.1.2 a), b), c), d) and e) of the Plan. Where resource use activities are likely to affect water quality, this policy framework is referred to in the more specific policy frameworks that appear elsewhere in the Plan. The other chapters of this Plan contain policies and methods that specifically address the other objectives of the water module.
Policy 1 sets the overall direction for Waikato Regional Council’s management of the Region’s water resources with particular regard to the achievement of Objective 3.1.2 a), b) and c). The policy provides a direct link between the classification methods applied in this Plan and the Regional Policy Statement. In particular, it clarifies the implementation of the net improvement approach as set out in Section 1.3.3 of the RPS and provides clear recognition of the value of existing infrastructure. Further guidance is provided by the water management classes which describe the purposes and characteristics for which water bodies will be managed in Policies 4 to 7.
Policy 2 describes in further detail how the net improvement objective and Policy 1 will be pursued in the case of water bodies that are considered to be degraded. The focus of the Policy is to achieve an enhancement in water quality in degraded water bodies compared with the actual water quality in those water bodies existing at the time of determining a resource consent application, including the effects on water quality of any existing discharge which is subject to an application for a new consent.
Natural character is a set of interdependent qualities that together give an area its recognisable character, and this will vary widely through the Region. Policy 3 sets out the aspects of natural character that will be considered in regional plan changes, as well as in the consideration of any relevant consent application that affects the coastal environment on the landward side of mean high water spring, and water bodies and their margins. The policy lists the aspects of natural character that fall within the functions of a regional council. Other aspects fall within the functions of territorial authorities.
Policies 4 to 7 provide a statement of the purpose for which a water body will be managed when it is classified as a specific class or classes. The policies also provide assessment criteria to guide the case-by-case assessment of resource consent applications.
Policy 4 describes the purpose of the Waikato Region Surface Water Class. This class applies to all surface water bodies of the Region and implements Objective 3.1.2 a). This class clearly identifies that the water resources of the Region should be available to be used in accordance with Objective 3.1.2 a) and e) provided that adverse effects are adequately avoided, remedied or mitigated.
The other Water Management Classes identify only those waters that are significant in relation to particular characteristics. For example, although indigenous fish may be found in many streams throughout the Waikato Region, only those waters that have been investigated by fisheries experts and found to contain either significant diversity or populations of indigenous fish have been identified in that class and shown in the Water Management Class Maps. Likewise, Contact Recreation Class waterbodies are those that are subject to significant contact recreational use by the community.
Policy 5 sets out the overall purpose of the Natural State Water Class which identifies those waters within the Region that are in a naturally unmodified or substantially unmodified state. These Natural State Waters are valued for their aesthetic and intrinsic values and are highly valued as sources of high biodiversity, stable flow regimes and high water quality. For these reasons, use of and discharges to Natural State Waters have been controlled by rules in the other chapters of this Water Module.
Policy 7, Fishery Class, describes the purpose for which water bodies mapped as Significant Indigenous Fisheries and Habitat and Significant Trout Fisheries and Trout Habitat, are to be managed. It lists the matters that need to be considered when assessing resource consent applications that have the potential to affect the fishery values of these water bodies. This class does not distinguish between areas that are significant habitat, and areas which are also significant spawning locations. It is noted that not all Fishery Class water bodies are significant spawning areas. Two specific examples of these are given in the exception to the policy (the main stem of the Waikato River and a section of the main stem of the Hinemaiaia River).
Policy 8 provides assessment criteria to help guide decisions on the size of mixing zone that is reasonable for any given discharge. The policy explicitly extends the concept of reasonable mixing to discharges onto or into land that may result in contaminants entering water. This means that the reasonable mixing test will be applied to land disposal of effluent. This is necessary to ensure that any subsequent effects on surface water from discharges to land are managed appropriately. To minimise the extent of the non-compliance zone in accordance with this policy, mixing needs to be as rapid as practicable. The effect of the policy is that the size of the mixing zone that is considered reasonable will be minimised. In many instances this will mean that the size of the reasonable mixing zone will be the outermost extent of the initial mixing zone.