An update from the chair – Selwyn Waihora zone committee

Welcome to this update on the important water quality improvements being undertaken by your zone committee. 

First I’d like to endorse the comments of committee member Pat McEvedy in his May Soap Box – especially how challenging and rewarding it is to be involved.

The zone committee is supporting and driving on-the-ground actions to deliver sustainable benefits from water.

In our first five years:

  • $500,000 of funding was allocated to initiatives to protect and enhance the natural environment, with a further $250,000 from farmers and others
  • The Whakaora Te Waihora lake restoration programme has been in place since 2011
  • Stage 1 of the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme was completed in August 2015, resulting in 15,000 hectares converted from groundwater to surface water irrigation and enabling aquifer recharge
  • As a result of Plan Change 1 to the Land & Water Regional Plan, tough new rules and nutrient leaching limits have been imposed on farmers to manage water quality and quantity
  • Some 300 properties have developed Farm Environment Plans.

A key feature of the water plan is the Cultural Landscape Values Management Area which recognises the significance of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere to Ngāi Tahu in terms of mahinga kai, wāhi tapu and wāhi taonga.

I believe we have laid a solid foundation for improving water quality in this zone; however, due to legacy effects we can expect things to get worse before they get better.

In the meantime, the Zone Committee is working on implementing Plan Change 1.

There are many important local water management challenges still to be met. These include:

  • Encouraging all farmers to operate at better than Good Management Practice over time
  • Replacing more of the groundwater with alpine water
  • Maintaining or improving biodiversity in and around the zone.

These initiatives and others demand collaborative effort co-ordinated by the zone committee and your zone team. Please do not hesitate to contact us any time to discuss and contribute to them.