Local knowledge in the limelight

Simon Cameron, Chair of the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee, gives an update on the key issues discussed at its October meeting, including local mahinga kai and water quality.

It was a pleasure to host last Friday’s Zone Committee meeting in Takapō/Tekapo.

Changing the location for this meeting from our usual spot of Twizel gave people in the northern area of the catchment an opportunity to get involved in their local water and environmental issues - something that is very important to the Committee.

Thanks to those that came along - and for your input during the meeting as well.

Local mahinga kai explored

A highlight for me, and for many on the Committee, was learning about traditional mahinga kai resources found and used in the Takapō area.

Our rūnanga representatives Kieran Whyte and Michael McMillan presented the kōrerorero on raupō/bullrush and tī kōuka/cabbage trees and an interesting pūrākau (verbal presentation) looking at the cultural history of the area with context to today’s activities.

Update on water quality in the area

Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee Chair Simon Cameron

Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee Chair Simon Cameron

Another significant part of the meeting was a comprehensive update from Environment Canterbury’s science team on the latest water quality results for lakes and rivers in the area.

It was really useful to be able to ask detailed questions about the science and water monitoring methods that inform these results.

We heard that all recreational sample sites have been graded safe for swimming but last December’s massive rainfall event did have an impact on the water quality of some lakes.

In addition, water quality in certain rivers in the area is declining for a range of reasons that could include nutrient run-off, climate change, and E.coli pollution.

All of the water quality results are available on lawa.org.nz. 

Addressing declining water quality

This updated water quality information reaffirms the importance of the recommendations that we made to Environment Canterbury in consultation with the community as part of the planning process for Plan Change 5, which became operative last year.

Tighter land-use rules and continued emphasis on Farm Environment Plans and Good Management Practices have been designed to address water quality decline but we will be keeping a close eye on whether these measures will be enough and also looking at other contributing issues, like the importance of visitors to the lakes using toilets to prevent water contamination. 

You can read some of the information presented in the meeting agenda (PDF File, 4.84MB) and you’re always welcome to come along to our meetings. Find out about upcoming Council and Committee meetings.