Farmers could face instant fines if their livestock is found in waterways, under new rules proposed by the Government - but the Opposition says the changes are too slow.
Environment Minister Nick Smith today announced a set of proposed new rules aimed at cracking down on animals in waterways that would set a minimum fencing standard for all regional councils.
Dr Smith said inconsistencies between the ways councils handled regulations about issues around water protection meant some were failing.
"The problem with each regional council making their own rules is that most have not done so, and for those that do enforcement is cumbersome and expensive," he said.
But the proposed rules would only affect pig farms by 2017, with all other stock being phased in by 2030.
He said it was hoped instant fines - of $100 per animal to a maximum $2000 - for offending farmers would curb the problem.
But Labour's environment spokesman, David Parker, said the timeline was too long and the changes would only allow waterways to get dirtier.
"Despite the explosion in dairy beef and other beef cattle numbers, National's plan does not exclude them from lowland rivers until 2025 and from rolling country until 2030," he said.
He said the changes also still allowed for land-use intensity around rivers to get worse and didn't increase the "inadequate minimum standard of wadability for rivers".
A consultation period on the changes is open until April 22 and will include a series of meetings.
The report also looks at water use issues and iwi rights.