Coming together to improve Christchurch's urban waterways

Environment Canterbury welcomed the signing of the Community Waterways Partnership (the Charter) to ensure a collaborative effort to work toward improving our urban waterways.

About The Charter 

The Charter will see the development of a variety of community-based initiatives to improve the ecological health, biodiversity, and recreational value of Christchurch’s urban waterways.

“The Charter compliments much of the work being undertaken by both Councils and community groups to improve our waterways. This partnership will take it to the next level and is a significant step towards improving water quality.” Environment Canterbury Chair Jenny Hughey said.

“We are looking forward to creating a strong partnership between community groups, businesses, researchers, and local and central government,” Hughey said.

Environment Canterbury Councilor Nicole Marshall signing with Christchurch City Councillor Pauline Cotter

Environment Canterbury Councilor Nicole Marshall signing with Christchurch City Councillor Pauline Cotter

Signing the Charter

The event was attended by a variety of community participants as well as signatories from Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee, Christchurch City Council,  University of Canterbury, the Department of Conservation, and numerous community groups, schools and businesses. 

The Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee is encouraged by the commitment and collaboration shown by community groups, organisations along with local and regional councils over the creation and signing of the charter.

Zone Committee chair supports the Charter

“Sharing ideas and collaborating is a key aspect of the Charter and the Christchurch West Melton Zone Committee is pleased to be able to provide a platform where groups with an interest in water management can have their voices heard.” 

“By encouraging awareness, and long-term behaviour change, I think some really positive outcomes can come from this.

Improved waterways mean improved health, recreation, biodiversity, and community.

It’s a no-brainer that we need to give them some serious attention,” Kevin Brown said. 

Help the cause and sign the Charter

Any group or organisation with a passion for improving urban waterways can sign the charter, committing to a better future for our city’s water. Those interested can contact Sally Airey at the Christchurch City Council

Further information about the Charter

Background of the Charter

In October 2018 the Christchurch West Melton Zone Committee facilitated a workshop with representatives from central and local government agencies including the city council, Ngāi Tahu, universities, and community groups. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the establishment of a community agreement to improve urban stormwater and waterway health in Christchurch.

Those actions form the Community Waterways Partnership Charter. All groups involved in the initial workshop were encouraged by the direction and collaboration it would provide, so worked together to create and agree on the Charter’s content.

Te Mana o te Wai - restoring the health of waterways

Partners have acknowledged that the outcomes and health (Te Mana o te Wai) of our waterways will greatly benefit from collaborative efforts where expertise, networks and resources are shared.

It is hoped that by capturing all the work being done by various groups in this space, we can increase the pace at which the health of our waterways is restored.

Christchurch has many passionate community groups who are already working to protect and improve their local waterways.

Activities involving local communities and schools, with support through the partnership, will bring about behaviour changes at individual, household and community levels, to stop contaminants entering our stormwater and waterways, and degrading water quality.

The Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS)

The CWMS was established in 2009 and sets a framework for a collaborative approach to managing freshwater in Canterbury.

The Christchurch West Melton Zone Committee and the Banks Peninsula Zone Committee were established to help implement the CWMS in the Christchurch area. The role of these committees is to work collaboratively with the community to make recommendations to Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council. 

Addressing water quality issues

Water quality varies considerably across and within catchments, and monitoring identifies the areas that need to be improved. 

Municipal stormwater treatment infrastructure alone will not address this water quality problem, especially in the older part of the city where it is lacking. Therefore, it also needs communities to actively prevent pollution in the first place. Achieving this will require Communities to be aware of both the issues and the actions that they can undertake. 

It will take time and everyone working together to make a positive difference. 

The Charter is expected to gather momentum as more projects are identified and more groups and organisations have the chance to sign up to the partnership.

For further information on the Waterway Partnership Charter, please contact Sally Airey at the Christchurch City Council. 

Find out more about the state of our water in Canterbury.

This story was originally published on 17 March 2021.