Solutions the focus for WaterShed conference in Christchurch

The inaugural WaterShed conference has brought together more than 100 people leading freshwater management in Canterbury, involved in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“We are delighted that so many of the community and rūnanga members of the 11 water management committees, along with industry representatives and stakeholders from councils and interest groups have come together in the spirit of collaboration,” said Steve Lowndes, Chair of Environment Canterbury.

“The delegates at WaterShed are hearing about successes, are sharing problems as well as talking about the solutions for freshwater management.

“We acknowledge there are problems, including the legacy effects of decades of intensive farming, declining biodiversity, polluted urban streams, as well as what’s coming at Canterbury from climate change.

“We are only able to address these issues by working collaboratively and working with communities to find and implement solutions to protect and improve our freshwater.

“Over the past nine years, this has been happening through the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, an initiative which is the envy of the rest of the country, in the work to protect and improve freshwater.”

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the Canterbury Water Management Strategy come out of the ‘water wars’ of the 1990s and 2000s as different interests fought in the courts to gain access to water.

“While the CWMS has been led by Canterbury’s mayors and the Chair of Environment Canterbury, with Ngai Tahu at the table, it was very important to recognise that communities are at the heart of the Strategy.

WaterShed conference leading freshwater management

Cheryl Barnes (Deputy Secretary Water, Ministry for the Environment), Tamati Cunningham (Cashmere High School) and Sanne Kouwenberg (Avonside Girls High School) speaking at the inaugural WaterShed conference on the future of freshwater management in Canterbury.

Challenging the way we manage freshwater

“We also need to remember that how we manage freshwater is all about equity, and our duty of care to the past, the present, and the future.”

Dr Te Maire Tau, in opening WaterShed, challenged the delegates to keep an open mind to find solutions.

“Our waterways are worse than when Ngāi Tahu settled with the Crown in 1998. We have not sustainably managed freshwater over the past 30 years.

“It’s ridiculous that people have been able to take and use water, without taking into account the effects on the environment.”

Dr Tau called for more work to understand the value of water and its effect on private land value via water consents and irrigation.

To see the progress that has been made in recent years and to understand the implications in your water zone visit