Wat-er We Doing with Our Water? Unbottling New Zealand's Water Management Framework in the Face of Climate Change
43 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020
Date Written: September 2, 2019
Freshwater is an incredibly valuable resource, on which New Zealand – and particularly Canterbury – is hugely reliant. However, changes in temperature and rainfall patterns as a result of climate change threaten the availability of this resource and make the way in which freshwater is managed increasingly important. Recently, the issuing of water permits by the Canterbury Regional Council to allow for the take and use of water for commercial bottling purposes has drawn negative attention to the way in which freshwater management decisions are made in New Zealand. This essay explores the flaws that exist under New Zealand's current water management framework. It outlines the legislative process for issuing water permits under the Resource Management Act 1991, and uses the decision made by the Canterbury Regional Council as a case study that highlights the key issues that persist within this framework. Ultimately, this essay argues that an ever-present economic focus and reliance on bottom lines by council when making freshwater decisions, enabled by council discretion, fails to safeguard freshwater resources adequately in the face of uncertain climate impacts. In order to conserve this resource successfully, radical changes to the way in which water permits are issued must be made.
Keywords: water management, commercial bottling, climate change, resource management act 1991
JEL Classification: K00, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation