What's going on in Selwyn Waihora?

Rivers have gone dry, lakes have had algal blooms, new irrigation schemes are advancing…what does it all mean?  The Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee recently hosted fortnightly seminar series to look a little deeper into what is happening in the Selwyn water space.

Speakers included scientists, researchers, rūnanga and industry group representatives. View or download the presentations below.

Selwyn River/Waikirikiri from the foothills to the sea

View the latest drone footage of the Selwyn River / Waikirikiri taken in September 2017. After three dry years starting in the winter of 2014, the river is flowing again following significant rainfall in July and August. 


Selwyn Te Waihora - Our Water Story outlines the work that has been done in the catchment since the Canterbury Water Management Strategy was introduced. View the document online here or download now.  

View the topics and presentations

22 June - Land and Water issues - what and how we got here

Presenter: Ken Taylor (Our Land and Water Science Challenge); David Perenara-O'Connell (Taumutu Rūnanga)

Download a copy of Ken Taylor's presentation or view the video on our YouTube channel.

Welcome and introduction from Taumutu rūnanga.

Introducing the big issues:

  • Low flows in streams and rivers
  • Increasing nitrate levels
  • High microbial levels and toxic algae blooms at some swimming sites
  • Deterioration in Te Waihora Change in land use over time

Introduce the different “interests” and what they want:

  • Ngai Tahu
  • Recreation – fishing, swimming
  • Irrigators and intensive farming

Provide context of land and water management from 1950s to 2015 including:

  • Water allocation in early 2000s allowed under NRRP (Natural Resources Regional Plan)
  • Changes in rural economy and employment
  • Changes in District population and to small rural towns like Leeston, Dunsadel and Darfield (and perhaps contrast the towns with other rural towns in Canterbury – Hawarden and Culverden, or elsewhere – Wairoa, Northland)
6 July - Water quantity - rivers, lowland streams and groundwater in Selwyn Te Waihora

Presenter: Tim Davie (Environment Canterbury)

View Tim Davie's presentation on our YouTube channel.

  • Explain groundwater – surface water system
  • Selwyn River/Waikiriri – drying reaches
  • Contributions from Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers
  • Variations in rainfall and evaporation (and likely impact of climate change)
  • Irrigation demand and local and cumulative impacts
  • Current rules and limits on water take
20 July - Water quality in Selwyn Te Waihora waterways and groundwater

Presenter: Melissa Robson (Landcare Research)

View the presentation online here

  • Cover all contaminants – N, P, sediment and microbial contaminants
  • Current water quality
  • Impact of nitrate “in the post”
  • The challenge of setting a catchment N load for farming
  • Current rules and limits
3 August - Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere

Presenter: Tim Davie (Environment Canterbury)

View the presentation here on our YouTube channel

  • Te Waihora and Ngai Tahu
  • A healthy lake and its margins – fisheries, bird life
  • Lake quality and what drives this (including legacy P, impact of Wahine storm)
  • Lake levels and lake opening (including likely impact of sea level rise)
  • What is being done and what more is needed to rehabilitate Te Waihora
17 August - CPW (Central Plains Water)

Presenter: Susan Goodfellow (CPW)

View the presentation on our YouTube channel or download here.

  • CPW consent application history (as granted by the time new rules and limits being developed)
  • Overview of scheme and stages (including Lake Coleridge storage, land use mix)
  • What the conditions of CPW’s water take, water use and nutrient discharge consents mean (e.g. NDA, audited FEPs, Environment Fund, ground water monitoring . . . .)
  • Impact on groundwater volume and lowland streams (from replacing GW takes)
  • Impact on N load to lake and nitrates in shallow GW/lowland streams and how CPW shareholders are “farming to limits”
31 August - Farming to limits in Selwyn Waihora

Presenter: Ron Pellow (South Island Dairy Development Centre) and David Birkett (Foundation for Arable Research)

View the presentation on our YouTube channel.

  • Overview of Selwyn Te Waihora Plan Change requirements for farming
  • Reducing nutrient losses while retaining financial performance (Dairy farming, Arable farming)
14 September - A first step - what more needs to be done

Presenter: Tim Davie (Environment Canterbury)

Panellists: Hamish Rennie (Waihora Ellesmere Trust), Pat McEvedy (arable farmer and Selwyn District Councillor), David Perenara-O’Connell (Taumutu rūnanga)

View the presentation on our YouTube channel

  • Summary of what rules and limits are now in place for managing water flows and allocation and water quality in Selwyn Te Waihora
  • Summary of other key actions underway or proposed (e.g. lake interventions)
  • Panel discussion on what else is needed
  • Indicate to people what they can do to help improve water management