Stormwater Superheroes swoop in at World Rivers Day event

Canterbury’s rivers and fish were the stars at the recent Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network (OHRN)’s annual World Rivers Day event.

World Rivers Day aims to celebrate the value of our rivers and increase public awareness and stewardship of waterways.

Celebrations had to be held inside due to inclement weather, but this didn’t stop hundreds of visitors turning up to learn about our local rivers and how to protect the precious life in them.

This year the celebrations were combined with World Fish Migration Day, postponed due to COVID-19, which raises awareness of migratory fish.

An event to remember

Christchurch City Council staff led the way during the planting

Several organisations hosted displays, workshops, activities, music, a small planting along the riverbank, a photo competition, and a free barbecue across the action-packed day.

Christchurch City Council staff and local volunteers helped plant 170 natives while the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the Department of Conservation and our Enviroschools team brought freshwater fish, tuna/eel and invertebrates with them - a highlight for many young attendees.

“There was such a good turnout of people on the day, we are already planning next year’s event,” OHRN member and Christchurch West Melton Water Zone Committee Deputy Chair Annabelle Hasselman said.

“We are so thankful to all the organisations and community groups that got in behind the event, making it such a great learning opportunity for the community.

“Celebrating our rivers and the life within them is what it’s all about,” she said.

Stormwater messaging loud and clear

Informing the public about the Stormwater Superheroes campaign

Informing the public about the Stormwater Superheroes campaign

Water Zone Committee members joined our staff in hosting an information stand on how to be a Stormwater Superhero.

Committee members spoke to the public (including special attendees such as Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage) about their Stormwater Superheroes initiative and fish passage in the wider Christchurch area.

“Seeing so many new faces at the event was great. Many people were really interested in the messages we have to share and how they can be part of improving the water quality in local rivers and streams,” Committee Chair Kevin Brown said.

“Arming people with the knowledge that there are some simple steps they can take home to improve waterway health is a highlight of being on a committee like this.

“Things like making sure you pick up and dispose of your dog poo in a rubbish bin while out for a walk, or wash the car on the grass instead of the pavement so that chemicals and dirt are filtered through plants.

“If we all take these simple steps to become a Stormwater Superhero, we can collectively make big improvements to water quality and biodiversity in the city,” he said.

What you can do at home

One of the Zone Committee's goals is to protect water quality in urban waterways. The Committee carries this out by enhancing public knowledge of stormwater network issues and encouraging people to play their part by stopping contaminants and sediment from entering waterways.

Taking small actions and sharing these messages means we can all help improve the water quality, clarity and fish, bird, invertebrate life that call our streams and rivers home.

Four easy steps to become a Stormwater Superhero include:

  • Taking the dog for a walk - take a bag with you, pick up your dog's poo and dispose of it properly.
  • Cleaning the car - wash your car on the grass verge so the grass filters out the pollutants or use a professional and sustainable car wash.
  • Painting at home - wash your brushes in the laundry sink, not directly into the stormwater drain.
  • Reporting sediment - if you see dirt or sediment leaving building sites and going onto footpaths or roads, phone Environment Canterbury on 0800 765 588 or report it using the Snap, Send, Solve app.

Looking forward to seeing you next year

The Committee is very much looking forward to next year’s event. If you missed World Rivers Day, keep an eye on the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network Facebook page for the coming year.