Moving forward together for Waimakariri’s waterways

While the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee is watching with interest as Environment Canterbury’s planners work on getting Plan Change 7 to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan notified by mid-year, we’re not waiting for the plan to be implemented before taking action to improve local waterways.

We’re focusing on priority catchment areas to address water challenges. The first three priority catchment areas will likely include Silverstream, Cam River tributaries and Saltwater Creek.

Each of these areas has issues which we need to address at a local level. We’re committed to improving the health of these waterways as they have identified as priority areas by Waimakariri residents.

While acknowledging the complex issues our streams and rivers are facing, it’s also important to reflect on the progress being made through collaborative partnerships, technology and legislation.

The canary in the coal mine is Silverstream with significant levels of nitrate nitrogen in the surface water, well in excess of National Standards (NPSFM).

Collaborative Partnerships 

Waimakariri Irrigation Limited

Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) is carrying out a joint infiltration trial with Environment Canterbury on South Eyre Road, which will likely lead to further investigations towards finding a solution. Work will resume on this project during the winter months.

Institute of Environmental Science and Research

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) is trialling a denitrification wall, in the headwaters of the Silverstream, which is showing positive results and could provide localised solutions.

Next Generation Farmers Group

For me personally, one of the most encouraging developments is the Next Generation Farmers Group which has over 50 members. 

This group was formed by young farmers wanting to communicate and collaborate with the zone committee, Environment Canterbury and fellow farmers to promote change and good management practice.

This group is a key vehicle for change with its can-do attitude.

Local success stories

The Immediate Steps (IMS) funding programme has produced local success stories such as Tutaepatu Lagoon and Tūhaitara Coastal Park. 

Over 30 000 native trees have been planted around the edge of the lagoon over the last five years using the funding. Grey willow and old man’s beard have been removed along with over 800 pest animals to allow native species such as kahikatea, mudfish, morepork and bittern to thrive throughout the lagoon area.

We’ve also been assisting farmers requiring resource consent under Plan Change 5 to the Land and Water Regional Plan. Our zone delivery team have visited farmers who don’t receive assistance via industry groups or an irrigation scheme to ensure that they are on track with the consent process.

Addressing water quality

Addressing water quality is not just for rural users or industry groups.  Stormwater and the actions of urban and peri-urban residents also impact water quality. We all need to consider how we use water in our homes, land and businesses.

We’ll only solve our water quality issues by working together, and for some within our community this will mean accepting the way we do things needs to change, and that land use change may be required.

Now that we acknowledge that we have problems to fix, let’s get on with solving these issues so future generations can enjoy our streams and rivers.