Appendix 2: Self-assessment audit tool

Managing freshwater quality: Challenges for regional councils.

The self-assessment criteria set out below consolidate the criteria we used for our audit and the emerging issues and best practice we identified during our audit.

We encourage regional councils and unitary authorities to complete this self-assessment, and welcome any questions, feedback, or self-assessment results you would like to share with us.

1. Does the regional council know the current state of, and trends in, freshwater quality in its region? a. Does the freshwater quality monitoring network:
  • allow the regional council to collect all the information it needs to manage water resources and know whether planning objectives are being achieved?
  • cover all the different types of water bodies and environment classifications in the region?
  • measure a comprehensive set of physical, chemical, bacterial, and biological variables at a suitable frequency?
  • include appropriate quality control, quality assurance, and data storage procedures?
b. Have iwi been consulted on the monitoring network, and has inclusion of Mātauranga Māori and cultural monitoring principles been considered?

c. Has the regional council considered standardising with other regional councils the variables it monitors and how it monitors those variables?
2. Does the regional council have effective systems to report freshwater state and trend information to councillors and the community? a. Is the information presented so that it:
  • clearly tells the reader the state of, and trends in, freshwater quality;
  • explains the information in a way that the community can easily understand;
  • is consistent with other reports and documents;
  • identifies whether action is needed in response to what the information shows; and
  • states what is being done, or needs to be done, to address any issues?
b. Does the regional council meet the requirements under section 35(2)(b) of the RMA to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of policies, rules, or other methods in the regional policy statement or plans, and (under section 35(2A) to compile and make the results of this monitoring available to the public at least every five years?
3. Do freshwater quality monitoring systems identify risks to freshwater and trigger timely responses? a. Are freshwater quality monitoring results available for analysis in a timely manner?

b. Are significant changes in monitoring results or monitoring results outside specific parameters brought to the attention of relevant staff members?

c. Can the regional council identify examples where freshwater quality monitoring showed declining trends and action was taken in response?*

d. Have responses been timely – has the cause of the problem been identified, and steps taken to prevent ongoing freshwater quality degradation?

* Responses may include investigation into the cause of declining water quality, initiating programmes to improve water quality, and making changes to regulatory and non-regulatory programmes to address the causes of declining water quality.
4. Are members of the public able to bring freshwater quality issues to the regional council's attention (for example, by reporting pollution incidents or making complaints)? a. With regard to complaints and pollution incidents, does the regional council:
  • respond within reasonable time frames?
  • have systems to record the response taken to complaints and pollution incidents, and to ensure that the issue is resolved?
  • have the ability to identify repeat complaints and pollution incidents?
5. Do the range of regulatory and non-regulatory methods in place appropriately target the risks to freshwater quality in the region? a. Has the regional council set performance measures for its regulatory and non-regulatory programmes?

b. Does the regional council have a good understanding of whether the regulatory and non-regulatory programmes aimed at maintaining and enhancing freshwater quality are effective?

c. Is the regional council making changes to methods or how they are implemented when monitoring results show this is necessary?

d. Is the regional council working towards setting limits for freshwater quality, and understanding how to achieve management of freshwater quality within those limits?
6. Is compliance monitoring and enforcement action carried out consistently and to target areas of risk? a. Is the regional council:
  • working with dairy sector representatives to achieve greater rates of compliance?
  • operating compliance inspection and assessment methods that are consistent within the council and with other regional councils?
  • working with consent holders and landowners to resolve issues of non-compliance?
  • using enforcement tools strategically to bring about greater rates of non-compliance and to encourage better resource management practices?
  • operating systems for identifying repeat non-compliance and tracking resolution of compliance issues?
  • able to monitor compliance with regional rules and resource consents – that is, are rules and consents written in a way that can be monitored?
  • using science monitoring results to support its compliance inspections?
b. Are enforcement activities made independently of elected officials so that the perception of political bias is avoided?
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