Integrating policy and science to improve the management of freshwater [i.e. fresh water] in New Zealand : a thesis prepared in partial fulfilment of a Masters Applied Science in Natural Resource Management
Water is an important resource that is degraded in many rivers, including some in New Zealand. The environmental improvements resulting from regulation to improve water quality are frequently not monitored, the effectiveness of water quality policies is typically unknown and there are often no clear measures of success built in to policy development. Two studies were selected to examine these issues in relation to regional planning in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of New Zealand. In the first study, two successive plans that used numerical limits to improve water quality were assessed. The successes and failures of the first planning approach were examined and compared with more recent use of limits in the regional plan. Seven steps to developing robust water quality limits were recommended. In the second study, the monitoring of the effectiveness of freshwater policy was considered and a regional approach to plan development which combined science and policy presented. The approach was built on a catchment-based geographic framework of water management zones, water body values and water quality limits. To measure policy success a ranked matrix method was recommended that combined plan objectives and water quality limits. Integrated and collaborative approaches to policy development, setting of water quality limits and policy effectiveness monitoring were key recommendations from both studies and will be increasingly relevant to future water resource management in New Zealand.