National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F)

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F) regulate activities that pose risks to the health of freshwater and freshwater ecosystems. Each of New Zealand’s regional councils are responsible for the consenting and consent monitoring associated with these regulations. This section of the website includes resources to help you determine consenting requirements for your land use activities around freshwater in the Horizons region.

Horizons Regional Council is currently working through the requirements and implications for monitoring and enforcement. We encourage all landowners to become familiar with what is required. A good starting point for this are the Ministry for the Environment’s policies and regulations factsheets and your relevant industry groups.

We've prepared some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in response to questions posed to us by landowners, or some that we anticipate may be asked in relation to the Essential Freshwater package. Please note that these FAQs predominately refer to the amended National Environmental Standards.

View the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater

Timeline for roll-out

View our FAQs

Stock Exclusion Regulations

Dairy and beef cattle, pigs and deer must be excluded from wetlands, lakes and rivers with a bed greater than or equal to one metre wide. Dates for compliance vary according to stock type and terrain.

Minimum setbacks of three metres between stock and the bed of a lake or river will be required, except where permanent fences or riparian planting is already in place to exclude stock.

Where practicable, bridges and culverts must be used to facilitate stock crossing waterways. Where such structures are impracticable, stock may only cross waterways where stock are being actively driven through the water.

Find out more about the Stock Exclusion s360 Regulations

Intensive Winter Grazing

The Ministry for the Environment consultation on proposed changes to intensive winter grazing closed on 7 October 2021.

Currently the intensive winter grazing rules come into effect from 30 April 2022. These rules apply to you if your property includes five hectares or more of horticulture, 20 hectares or more of pasture or arable crops, or 20 hectares or more of a combination of any of these.
We’re working through the requirements and implications for monitoring and enforcement, however, we also encourage all landowners to become familiar with what is needed. A good starting point is the Ministry for the Environment’s factsheets and your relevant industry groups.

We will be updating the information we have as soon as further information is available. We still encourage farmers to begin preparing for these regulations.  

Find out more about the new IWG regulations

IWG consenting requirements flowchart

Feedlots and other stockholding areas

Feedlots and other stockholding areas can pose high environmental risks to freshwater if not managed well. Water quality degradation caused by these areas results from the volume and concentration of animal dung and urine (effluent), sediment loss, pugging and soil damage accumulating from holding cattle in a confined space.

If you use feedlots or other types of stockholding areas it is important to consider the new rules and whether you will need to apply for a resource consent.

For more information please read the brochure on Feedlots and other stockholding areas below.

Feedlots and other stockholding areas

Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes

Current provisions have been strengthened by including the requirement to provide telemetered data to us for takes of five litres per second by specified dates. This adds to existing requirements to meter these flows and provide records.

View the measurement and taking of water s360 regulations

Fish passages

Fish passage is the ability for fish to move unobstructed through waterways. Conversely, barriers to fish passage are any instream structures that may block or impede passage. Many of our native fish, such as whitebait and tuna (eels) need to move between habitats to complete their lifecycles, thus our waterways need to be carefully managed to provide our native fish with the habitat they need. Culverts, weirs, fords, dams and tide flood gates are common in rivers and streams throughout New Zealand and if not designed and implemented correctly, can impede fish passage.

The new freshwater regulations aim to maintain, or improve instream structures, except when it is desirable to prevent the passage of some fish species, to protect a desired fish species (e.g maintaining a weir to protect native fish, where they would otherwise be predated on by trout). The improvement and maintenance of these instream structures will open up additional habitat, thus facilitate population growth within our already threatened native fish populations.

Fish passages

Ministry for the Environment NES-F Webinars

NES-F and s360 regulations Part 1 - Continuous farm practice improvement

Overview of the new NES-F and S360 regulations related to intensive winter grazing, stockholding and stock exclusion

NES-F and s360 regulations Part 2 - Limiting intensification and nitrogen use
Overview of the new regulations related to N Cap and intensification.

Raising the bar on ecosystem health – wetlands, rivers and fish
Overview of the new regulations related to wetlands, rivers and fish passage.