Freshwater and Estuaries. Ministry of the Environment. Water quality research. How we use water Compared to many countries, New Zealand’s lakes and rivers are clean and clear, and the tap water is of good quality. People have contact with fresh water in many ways, including: wading in streams or rivers while tramping or fishing boating, swimming or fishing in lakes washing or drinking farm irrigation. Water quality can vary – for instance, it may not be drinkable, but is usable for washing. Soil erosion When early settlers cut down the forests to make farmland, many hillsides began to erode. Sewage Sewage and factory waste was once piped directly into rivers and lakes. Farm fertilisers Fertilisers put onto farms contain nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate. Algae and other problem plants Algae are tiny water plants. Hornwort is the worst water weed.
Protecting the water There are laws that protect New Zealand’s water, and control how it is used.