This report measures the quality of New Zealand's waterways; water quantity and flows; biodiversity in rivers and lakes; and the cultural health of fresh water. It is the first dedicated report on fresh water in New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series and will be a baseline for tracking change over time. The report will support policy makers, businesses, iwi, community groups, and individuals to make informed decisions about freshwater issues and priorities.
The focus of the report is on three themes: water quality, water quantity and flows and ecosystems, habitats, and species.
Key findings are:
- nitrogen levels are getting worse at 55 percent and getting better at 28 percent of monitored river sites across New Zealand
- phosphorus levels are getting better at 42 percent and getting worse at 25 percent of monitored river sites across New Zealand
- of the 39 native fish species we report on, 72 percent are either threatened with or at risk of extinction
- E.coli levels are 22 times higher in urban areas and 9.5 times higher in pastoral rivers compared with rivers in native forest areas
- 51 percent of water allocated for consumptive use is for irrigation, and 65 percent of that is allocated to Canterbury.