It is an uncontroversial fact that the state of the country’s freshwater resources has for decades been moving towards ecological collapse.
Freshwater ecosystems are key features of New Zealand’s natural heritage. Plentiful precipitation feeds many hundreds of streams, more than 70 major rivers, about 770 lakes and numerous underground aquifers.
More than 700 lakes are classified as “shallow” and up to 40 per cent of these are nutrient-enriched and no longer capable of supporting fish life.
Until relatively recently, water has never been considered a scarce resource in New Zealand. Consequently, the economic and regulatory controls over its allocation and use have been neglected.
The greatest impacts, however, have not come from water use but from land use: Agriculture, Urban, Dams, Mining & Forestry.