Black Hole focus of collaborative river enhancement project

A popular recreational area on South Canterbury’s Waihao River, the Black Hole, is to undergo a collaborative restoration project to improve its water quality.

Environment Canterbury is funding a project due to start this spring to enhance the river hole, which has been affected by poor water quality - particularly E.coli bacteria. 

The project will be a collaboration with landowners, community groups and local schools.

Waihao River extension project 

Work will include the removal of willows, native riparian planting and management of gullies and wet areas to mitigate run-off into the waterway, as well as the enhancement of the Waihao River walking track.  

Environment Canterbury is funding $18,000 towards the project and the farmers involved will also be contributing financially. 

Environment Canterbury Zone Manager for Lower Waitaki South Canterbury Coastal Chris Eccleston says the Black Hole restoration is part of a larger Waihao River extension project, which includes working with farmers in the upper catchments of the river to reduce nutrient run-off by using good management practices and following Farm Environment Plans. 

“Recently we have been working on pinpointing hotspots where nutrient and sediment run-off were occurring and working specifically with Waihao Downs irrigators to mitigate this run-off through identifying actions in their Farm Environment Plans and conducting audits.  This work has been a great foundation for the Black Hole project,” he said.

Lower Waitaki South Canterbury Coastal Zone Commttee welcomes the restoration project

Lower Waitaki South Canterbury Coastal Zone Committee Chair Kate White welcomed the new project.

“The Zone Committee has identified the Black Hole as a priority for restoration due to its high recreational value.  It’s important to work with the community to improve the water quality of this popular spot, where many generations of locals used to swim during summer.”

Environment Canterbury’s science team is also further investigating potential sources of E.Coli at the Black Hole using source tracking technology and is planning to report on the results in the next few months.