World Water Day: Prioritising water initiatives


Today is World Water Day, a day that highlights the importance of fresh water and the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

This year’s theme, Groundwater – making the invisible visible, is a significant focus for the Co-op in achieving our sustainability targets. Groundwater is a precious taonga, boosting agricultural production and helping farmers withstand water variability, so we need to ensure we use it wisely for future generations.

Today’s event is a great opportunity to check in with our recent developments on water-saving initiatives across the Co-op.


All our manufacturing sites are prioritising the reduction or re-use of water, taking steps to make sure our plants are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible while limiting their impact on the environment.

“At Fonterra we care about the environment and the communities in which we operate and we’re always looking for ways to improve - one area that’s always a focus for us is water.

“As well as the good work farmers are putting in on-farm, we’re investing across our 28 factories across New Zealand. Our factories depend on water, and we want to ensure our water use is as efficient as possible”, says Lee Stewart, Fonterra’s Head of Corporate Sustainability.

Our Hautapu site, located in the heart of Waikato, is a leader in eco-efficiency and sustainability. Like at many of our sites across the country, wastewater is treated and then returned to the natural environment through irrigation on our nutrient management farms. 

We’ve recently been granted a consent for a new wastewater treatment facility that  will create better sustainability outcomes for the site and the community.  Read more on our proposed facility here.

At Fonterra we care about the environment and the communities in which we operate and we’re always looking for ways to improve - one area that’s always a focus for us is water.

Lee Stewart, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Fonterra

Northland Kaipara Harbour Group

We’ve recently partnered with the Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme in a decade-long project to help restore the health and mauri of Kaipara Moana.

Kaipara Harbour is New Zealand’s largest harbour and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Its waters, associated catchments and ecosystems covers over 6,020km2 – one-third of the Northland region.

A remediation programme of this size and scale is a New Zealand first, providing an exciting opportunity to support a shifting generational change to restore the Harbour for our future.

The biggest threat to the wonderful taonga of the Kapiara Harbour is the soil. Seven thousand tonnes worth of soil pours into the harbour each year. The project aims to reduce any ongoing environmental degradation by halving sediment loss from land to sea, benefitting the harbour in improving freshwater quality and increasing biodiversity.

We will support Northland dairy farmers through the partnership by accelerating on-farm projects and developing our Farm Environmental Plans to deliver sustainable results. If you’d like to learn more on the programme, visit this page here.

Living Water Partnership with Landscape DNA

A new project supported by Fonterra’s Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation will      help farmers to make the best decisions for the environment based on better landscape information.

Living Water and Land & Water Science have recently launched a new web-based map LandscapeDNA tool, which integrates landscape properties and cutting-edge science to understand why water quality varies

LandscapeDNA brings next generation spatial landscape data into one platform, putting landscape information in the hands of our Fonterra farmers, land users, catchment groups and rural professionals, empowering them to manage their land, while minimising the risk of pollution and maximising production.

The LandscapeDNA tool will be accessible to our Sustainable Dairy Advisers, who work with farmers to make the best decisions for the environment. The next phase of the project is currently underway, curating a dashboard which serves as a one-stop-shop. The update looks to integrate accurate landscape information and farm financials, further assisting in effectively mitigating land-use impacts on water quality. For more information on the LandscapeDNA tool, visit the page here.



Our approach to water

We believe protecting and restoring the environment is critical to safeguard opportunities for future generations. To achieve this, we’re working to develop the skills, knowledge and systems to regenerate the environment throughout our global supply chain.