You Need to Know: The National Works in Waterways Guideline

8 November 2021

Infrastructure owners, designers and contractors, environmental advisors, council planners, and private landowners will find the National Works in Waterways Guideline of interest.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s freshwater habitats are under immense pressure from more than 150 years of land-use change and human activities. Declines in water quality, habitat conditions, loss of critical habitats and barriers to fish passage all present management challenges when protecting ecological, recreational, and cultural values while also providing for development.

Any activities that include works in waterways — such as stream diversions, building roads, bridges, culverts, dredging, and clearing weedy plants — will have various ecological impacts. The impacts depend on the nature, scale and timing of the activity and how the activity is managed.

The potential effects of works in waterways are managed by regional councils through regional plans, which must give effect to national directions; however, the level of direction on specific methods to avoid or minimise adverse effects of works in waterways varies across New Zealand.

Boffa Miskell ecologist, Dr Tanya Blakely, has worked with an expert consortium from universities, councils, government agencies, road and rail agencies, construction firms, and practitioners to develop a draft framework for the National Works in Waterways Guideline, which is now available on the Ministry for the Environment website.

The National Works in Waterways Guideline has been developed for a wide audience, including infrastructure owners, designers and managers, contractors, waterway managers and environmental advisors, council planners, scientists and compliance officers, iwi, private landowners and the local community.

The next step is to further develop the best practice for undertaking physical works in waterways, including videos, on-line resources, and factsheets. This new tool will clearly explain what needs to be considered and adhered to when seeking or processing consents for works in waterways; including the actions required to avoid, remedy and mitigate effects on the environment.

While the National Works in Waterways Guideline does not have official status, and is not a legislative document, it integrates the expert knowledge of different management agencies, central government, research organisations, ecological and environmental practitioners, the primary sector, and mana whenua into a single, easily accessible document.

Find out more

Creating a National Works in Waterways Guideline

Download the Works in Waterways Guideline here

For further information please contact Dr. Tanya Blakely