The region's waterways are in good shape by national standards, according to Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder.
However, Mr Leeder said there was more work to do to ensure clean, healthy waterways for the next generation.
"World Rivers Day is this Sunday . It's a great opportunity to reflect on the roles that rivers play in our daily lives. We've made real gains in protecting water quality in recent years.
"But the cumulative effects of past land-use change are still surfacing, and the water management challenges we're tackling are becoming increasingly complex," he said.
More than $30m will be spent by Bay of Plenty Regional Council on science, restoration and policy work to protect and improve the region's waterways this year.
Mr Leeder said science and innovation, along with compromise and investment from all sectors, would be crucial to securing clean, reliable freshwater in the long term.
The council's water work this year included helping landowners to pinpoint and treat problem E.coli bacteria sources, trial nutrient budgeting methods, and to fence and plant an additional 101km of waterway margins throughout the region.
Farm animals are already excluded from more than 75 percent of the region's waterways.
Investment was also being channelled into science and computerised modelling work that would be used alongside input from local councils, iwi, community groups and industry stakeholders to set new catchment-specific water management rules and methods under the Regional Water and Land Plan.
Water quality improvements for the Rotorua lakes were being targeted. A new online system to track nutrient discharges was being built and Rotorua farmers were being assisted to put nutrient management plans and resource consents in place under proposed new nutrient management rules , Plan Change 10, to improve water quality in Lake Rotorua.
The online tool will complement council's work on in-water treatment trials, weed removal and voluntary incentives that promote low nitrogen land-use, such as forestry and alternative cropping, to deliver further water quality improvements under the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme.
• Plan change 10 rules formally notified
Public consultation on proposed plan changes for the Kaituna Maketu, Pongakawa Waitahanui and Rangitaiki catchments will start in 2018.
At 155km long, the Rangitaiki River is the region's longest river.
The council said it was working in partnership with the Rangitaiki River Forum to protect and restore tuna (eel) habitat and, with funding assistance from Ministry for the Environment, restoring 206ha of wetlands, in the Rangitaiki River catchment.
Work was also planned to restore 20 per cent of the Kaituna River's freshwater flow back into Maketu Estuary and recreate 20 hectares of wetlands.
The project aimed to restore the health and mauri of the estuary that had suffered since the river was diverted away in 1956.
Around Tauranga Moana, 16 sub-catchment action plans were being delivered to improve water quality, in partnership with iwi and local councils. More than 90 percent of waterway margins that drain into the Tauranga Harbour were now protected from stock access.
For more information about the regional council's work to care for water, see www.boprc.govt.nz/freshwaterfutures