The Region has been divided into Water Management Sub-zones* for the purpose of managing water quality and quantity. Water bodies and their beds within these Water Management Sub-zones* have been assigned Values which represent the ecosystem, recreational, cultural and social and economic attributes of the water body and its bed (Objective 5-1, Policy 5-1). Water quality targets* have been assigned to protect these Values (Policies 5-2 to 5-5).

Discharges to water and land

The water chapter deals with discharges to land and water holistically. This is because discharges to land have the potential to adversely affect groundwater and surface water quality if not managed well. Three types of discharges of concern have been identified: point source discharges to land (including domestic wastewater*), point source discharges to water (including industrial discharges and treated sewage) and non-point source discharges to land (from agricultural land uses). All these types of discharges will be managed to meet the objectives and policies for water quality (Objective 5-1, 5-2, Policies 5-2 - 5-5), including discharges to land (Policy 5-10).

Agricultural land uses contribute to water bodies not meeting the Region’s water quality targets* for nutrients, faecal contamination and sediment levels. These need to be targeted for control in problem catchments and through the Regional Council’s Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) and Whanganui Catchment Strategy and the regulation of intensive farming (Policy 5-8).

Point source discharges to water need to be managed to achieve water quality targets* (Policy 5-9). This may mean that it is appropriate to consider alternatives to discharging to water. This may include considering alternative treatment options for all or part of the year, to achieve or move closer to water quality targets* at critical times of the year. In all cases, point source discharges to water of untreated human sewage are culturally unacceptable, and direct discharges of One Plan - 2014 5-29 treated human sewage should be changed to involve land application before discharge (Policy 5-11).

Surface Water Quantity

Water will be used and allocated in a way which enables water to be used for the wellbeing of people and the community, while providing for other Values (Objective 5-3, Policy 5-14). Water allocation limits are set for each Water Management Sub-zone* and water will be managed to maintain these limits (Policies 5-15 and 5-16). When water use needs to be restricted, life sustaining and essential water takes have first priority (Policy 5-18). Water harvesting and alternative sources of water to surface water are also encouraged and provided for (Policy 5-17). Efficiency of use is an important consideration, and will ensure that water is available to the maximum number of users and is not wasted (Policies 5-12 and 5-13).


Groundwater quality and quantity is connected to that of surface water and this is recognised in this chapter, while providing for its management separately. Bores* will be managed to ensure that they are properly constructed, efficient and fully functioning and do not lead to contamination of groundwater, wastage of water or unnecessary effects on other bores* or surface water bodies (Policy 5-20). Groundwater Management Zones* have been established and sustainable allocations set; groundwater takes will be managed within these allocations (Policy 5-21). Groundwater quality within the Region is generally good and is not declining, but maintaining this good quality will be a consideration when managing discharges (Policy 5-10).

Beds of Rivers and Lakes

The physical nature of the Region’s rivers and lakes and their beds is important to maintaining the Values assigned to them. Management of activities in the beds of rivers and lakes will be undertaken in order to maintain these Values, and other important physical attributes (Objective 5-4, Policies 5-22 and 5-26). Some Values are treated differently. Important aquatic biodiversity sites*, cultural sites* and natural state areas would be negatively and potentially permanently harmed by some activities and consequently are given a high level of protection (Policy 5-23). Flood control and drainage schemes have damaged water Values in some areas, but also provide valuable protection services to the community. Maintaining this level of service is important, while ensuring that other Values are not further compromised (Policy 5-24). While recognising the Values, acknowledgement is also needed that some activities, such as river restoration, are beneficial and should be allowed to occur (Policy 5-26).

Gravel extraction is an important activity in river beds, both for the benefit the gravel resource provides and the flood protection benefit of having it removed from the river. However, if not well managed, too much extraction or extraction in an inappropriate manner can damage river Values. Gravel extraction needs to be managed to ensure that extraction volumes are sustainable (Policy 5-27).