Environment Canterbury welcomes river awards

Environment Canterbury has welcomed the announcement that a waterway in the Hurunui-Waiau zone has won the 2017 Cawthron Foundation supreme award for the most improved river in New Zealand. 

A Canterbury student project was a finalist in the new “River Story” award category.

Pahau River took last night’s major accolade, determined by long-term improvement in a specific water quality indicator, E. coli.

Accepting the award in Wellington together with Amuri Irrigation Collective (AIC) Chair David Croft, Environment Canterbury Acting Chair Steve Lowndes said it was always encouraging to receive an award recognising improved water quality outcomes and the hard work that goes into achieving them.

“This is the second piece of good news we’ve had this week,” he said. “The other was the Freshwater Quality report which demonstrated steady improvement for the last three years.” 

“AIC is to be congratulated for its move away from border dyke to spray irrigation, which is delivering multiple benefits. I’d also like to acknowledge the work of the Pahau Landcare Group, which early on identified the need to reduce the effect of border dyke bywash and runoff.

“It’s good to see irrigation being used not only as insurance against drought, but also as a management tool helping to maximise productivity and to promote better water quality.

“We recognise, however, that there is much more to be done in this catchment in particular and the Amuri Basin in general to address nutrient levels.  Environment Canterbury, water zone committees and primary sector organisations are working hard to promote good management practices and technological advances leading ultimately to improved water quality outcomes.”

Pahau River is the largest lowland stream in the Amuri Basin in North Canterbury. A change from border dyke to spray irrigation has been accelerated in the last year with the AIC-led piping project.

This $85 million project has replaced 106 kilometres of open water races with 131 kilometres of pipe. Only 1% of the Amuri Irrigation Scheme remains as border dyke.

The AIC piping allows the company to allocate three more cubic metres of consented water that was previously lost to leakage and bywash. This will allow AIC’s irrigated area to increase by 6,000 hectares to 28,000 hectares.

At the 2016 awards, the Avon River / Ōtākaro in Christchurch took out the award for the most improved river in Canterbury.

Read more about the Cawthron river awards