Exciting times for Selwyn River / Waikirikiri

It’s been a good year for the Selwyn River / Waikirikiri so far, with healthy river flows and new projects underway.

A major challenge has been to cater for multiple values of the river system at the same time.  Good examples of this are contact recreation, native fish populations, the trout fishery and mahinga kai - all of which can be adversely affected by droughts.

Two projects are underway to address this - the Targeted Stream Augmentation project uses a solar powered pump to supply groundwater to a spring-fed tributary of the river when the spring stops flowing.  This tributary, just upstream of Chamberlains Ford, has been a stronghold for native fish due to a natural barrier keeping trout out.

The Selwyn Near River Recharge project is constructing an off-take from the Central Plains Water scheme that will supply a leaky basin beside the upper Selwyn River / Waikirikiri during dry periods.  Recharged water will flow through the groundwater system and keep the lower Hororata, Selwyn and Irwell rivers from running dry as they have in the past.

A potential issue with this project is more regular joining of trout and Canterbury mudfish habitat in a tributary of the lower Hororata River.  A physical fish barrier is not possible here as it would flood nearby land.  Canterbury mudfish have a conservation status of ‘nationally critical’ and they are a favourite food for trout, so keeping the species apart is important.

Supporting projects to improve water quality

Your Zone Committee is pleased to be supporting investigations into the first electric fish barrier in the Southern Hemisphere to keep these populations apart.

Further down the catchment, a Fish & Game led project is restoring the trout spawning habitat of the Snake Creek system.

At our April Zone Committee meeting, we supported the formation of a new Selwyn River / Waikirikiri Working Group.  This group offers a wide range of expertise to make sure all river values can be managed into the future in an integrated way.

I look forward to providing updates on these projects in future.  In the meantime, don’t hesitate to talk to your Zone Committee or local Zone Team members for more information – you can contact them via 0800 324 636.