The way communities make decisions about managing fresh water may change significantly following yesterday's announcement by the Minister for the Environment and the Primary Industries Minister.

A new, optional 'collaborative' planning process is to be included in the next round of amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991.  The process is based on the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum and is designed to give communities a much greater role in managing the quality, quantity and use of fresh water within their region.

Other reforms to the Resource Management Act include the introduction of a National Objectives Framework (value-setting for management of fresh water) and greater central government direction and oversight of water quality and quantity accounting.  Improved participation in planning for Maori has also been well signalled, as have changes to sections 6 and 7.

The next round of reforms to the Resource Management Act will be substantial and will be the beginning of a generational change in how we make decisions about the management of fresh water in our community.

The press release is available here.