è Adverse effects of land based activities on water quality.
è Adverse effects of activities carried out on the surface of lakes and rivers in Westland.
è Need for access to waterways and conservation of riparian strips.
è Environmental effects of disposal of human sewage on land from mobile sources.
Water is an important element of Westland's resource base. The many lakes, rivers, wetlands and coastal waters in the District provide the basis for a range of recreation and tourist activities. High rainfall in the District means that the water resource is large and is sufficient to meet the requirements of all users. The water resource also holds considerable significance for tangata whenua and is a major contributor to overall environmental quality.
The maintenance of water quality is of concern to the public for health, economic and aesthetic reasons. Discharges of effluent to water, especially those from humans, is particularly offensive to the runanga of the District. Degraded water quality may impact on mahinga kai and degrade traditional food gathering sites.
The West Coast Regional Council has the primary water quality and quantity management role in Westland. The Regional Council is responsible for the maintenance and enhancement of water quality and quantity and can control discharges of contaminants into water. The District Council, as part of its function to control the effects of land use activities has a specific concern with the impact of land based activities on water quality. The integration of Regional and District Council policies and rules is essential to achieving the effective and efficient management of water resources in Westland.
Water quality is very high over most of the District and provides opportunities for businesses and enterprises to establish which depend on high water quality. A recent proposal to export water from Okuru and the establishment of a salmon farm at Paringa are two examples. Westland's whitebait industry is also dependent on the quality of water and on water habitats. The protection of spawning and breeding areas is important to the continued success of this industry. The whitebait industry makes a significant contribution to the viability of communities in Westland and has important historic and cultural ties and values.
Water quality can be compromised or impacted on by a variety of activities including those both land and water based. Examples include mining, forestry, industry, solid/liquid waste disposal, and agricultural discharges. While the effects of these activities may be localised and temporary, inadequate controls, maintenance and management of facilities and associated activities can result in adverse environmental impacts or cumulative effects going undetected. Appropriate separation distances are thus required (possibly in the form of esplanade reserves or strips) and management practices which avoid adverse effects on water quality should be encouraged.
A particular water quality issue in Westland is rural runoff and effluent entering the Hokitika River. Intensive farming occurs in this catchment. However, the problem is not as serious as it could be, largely because of the high rate and intensity of flushing which occurs on the Hokitika River and on all other rivers in the District.
Another particular issue is the retention of remaining wetlands. Most fertile wetlands in the District have been drained or modified by drainage of adjacent land, and those that remain therefore have considerable importance to the ecology of the District. Lowland wetlands are the main habitat for inanga, the principle whitebait species, as well as other threatened species such as fernbird and grebe and the white heron.
Waterways in Westland offer substantial opportunities for a multitude of recreational activities including, fishing, swimming, scuba diving, wind surfing, yachting, power boating, canoeing and rafting. While these activities depend on a high water quality environment, some have the potential to impact on that environment and in particular on other people's enjoyment of the resource. Conflicts can occur between commercial users and private interests as well as various private interests.
The use of waterways is controlled by a number of different bodies. The Department of Conservation administers most lakes in the District and the headwaters of most rivers. Other parts of rivers on Crown Land are administered by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). The Water Recreation Regulations, administered by the Maritime Safety Authority of NZ, control use of boats. The District Council is responsible for controlling the effects of activities on the water surface.
Commercial activities must gain a concession from the Department of Conservation on waterways it administers, but must also comply with District Plan rules. The Department of Conservation, through the management plan process, have already limited or restricted some activities on the surface of water bodies in areas it manages. For example power boating is prohibited on Lake Matheson (except for management purposes) and within Westland National Park/Tai Poutini National Park power boat racing is restricted to Lake Wahapo only.
Esplanade reserves can serve as a riparian buffer to protect water quality and also for recreational access to waterways, but where they are not required for these purposes, their provision can be unnecessary and costly. The District already has an extensive public access network along the coast and most major waterways in the form of legal roads. These also often act as riparian strips providing shelter for wildlife, and protecting water quality. The public also generally has free access across land administered by the Department of Conservation.
3.11.1 To control landuse and subdivision activities that may have adverse effects on the quality, instream values and availability of water resources and recognise the importance of water to the environment.
3.11.2 To avoid, remedy and/or mitigate the adverse effects of activities which utilise surface waters.
è Recognises the link and integral relationship between land and water resources.
è Recognises the importance of safeguarding the life supporting capacity of water (and ecosystems) for achieving sustainable resource management.
è Recognises the relationship of Maori with water resources.
è Emphasises quality of resources and the nature of water as required by Section 7 of the Act.
è Allows water resources to be utilised and enjoyed by people and communities in Westland within specified environmental limits.