Increasing the technical efficiency of water allocation for irrigation in New Zealand
Water scarcity is increasing worldwide. Human-induced changes in the hydrological cycle associated with climate change, as well as direct human impacts such as over-abstraction have led to this condition of scarcity. As a result, many countries are facing drier summers. New Zealand is no exception to this trend. Increasing household, agricultural, and industrial demand is leading to the depletion of water stocks. Due to the finite supply of water in New Zealand, increasing demand coupled with climate change is leading to increasing water scarcity. The implications of water scarcity are far-reaching, affecting a variety of interests such as industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and Iwi. It is, therefore, imperative that the New Zealand Government search for ways to increase the efficiency of water allocation in New Zealand. As 77 per cent of New Zealand’s allocated fresh water is used for irrigation, this report focuses primarily on ways to introduce incentives for water conservation in sectors using water for irrigation. Various impact assessments as well as a consideration of relative costs and benefits were used to assess a selection of policies. Policy recommendations include the implementation of a national brokering system to allow the trade of water consents, the provision of subsidies for the use of specified water efficiency-enhancing technologies, and the creation of a national water footprinting scheme. The principal findings of this report show that a tradable consents regime would be most appropriate for the New Zealand setting. However, a combination of these policies is also advisable.
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This report was undertaken as a requirement for the University of Auckland Public Policy course, Policy 701: Policy Analysis and Evaluation. This is an honours level course which offers an in-depth introduction to the analytical concepts and tools needed to undertake high quality policy analysis and evaluation. The concepts and tools learnt in the course were applied to a particular policy issue chosen by the researcher in order to produce a high quality report relevant to the New Zealand setting.
About the Author
Rosanna Keam is currently in her fourth year at the University of Auckland. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree majoring in Political Studies and Geography, Rosanna is now in the final stages of an honours degree in Political Studies. Her research focus includes environmental policy with a particular focus on water allocation policies in different country contexts. Rosanna is currently in the final stages of her dissertation analysing water privatisation policies in developing countries. Following the completion of her honours year Rosanna will undertake a Masters degree at the University of Auckland. Click here to contact her.
 Ministry for the Environment, “Snapshot of Water Allocation in New Zealand,” http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/ser/snapshot-water-allocation-nov06/snapshot-water-allocation-nov06.pdf (accessed August 19, 2009).