LAWA river and lake water quality national assessment welcomed

Environment Canterbury welcomes the latest river and lake water quality assessment from Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA).

Chair Jenny Hughey said it was important to reflect on the state of all Canterbury rivers, streams and lakes, particularly our iconic braided rivers, on World Rivers Day.

She also noted the recent launch of a new website for one of our most iconic “lakes” (actually a coastal lagoon), Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.

Water quality challenges similar throughout Aotearoa

"The LAWA river water quality national picture summary from 2012 to 2022 shows Canterbury has similar challenges to the rest of Aotearoa," Chair Hughey said.

"It’s a mixed picture at a high level showing little change over the last few years. Clearly though, the more modified the landscape (with urban being the most modified), the poorer the water quality.

"This is the challenge we’ve been addressing here for several years, mainly via the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and our freshwater planning framework.

"Much has been done but there is plenty more to do. The Government’s Essential Freshwater package, which includes the important concept of Te Mana o te Wai (the health of the waterway comes first), gives national impetus to much of what we’re already doing in Canterbury."

Improvements to water quality underway

"In rural areas, we have auditable farm environment plans, nutrient limits and stock exclusion rules. Many of the rules have been further strengthened by local communities focusing on outcomes for their own catchments, and a new planning framework for Canterbury will be notified by 2024," Chair Hughey said.

"In both urban and rural environments we’re seeing many restoration activities being undertaken by mana whenua and communities working collaboratively. This work needs to continue.

"Every action we take will improve our taonga rivers, streams and lakes, which is what we all aspire to," she said.

For more information head to the LAWA site.