Passionate Twizel farmers pushing for water quality improvements

Passionate farmers around Twizel and Ōmārama are making inroads towards improving the health of local waterways and catchments. And their cause has now been bolstered by support from Fonterra and Environment Canterbury.

The Spring Creek and Willow Burn, streams within the Ōmārama catchment, are benefitting from local farmers’ participation in Fonterra’s Sustainable Catchments programme and on the ground support from our staff.

The streams flow through high-country farmland and are fed by the Ewe and Wether ranges. Both streams flow into the Ahuriri River near the State Highway 8 road bridge, about 2 kilometres north-east of Ōmārama.

Sustainable Catchments supports the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee to enhance the water quality, in-stream and riparian values of local streams.

Planting, shade to improve waterway health

While Spring Creek generally has good water quality, Willow Burn generally has poor water quality, but the trend is likely improving in terms of E. coli and the turbidity of the water.

At Spring Creek, local dairy farmers have been hard at work planting indigenous riparian vegetation and our staff have played a part in planting more seedlings. Native fish and invertebrates have also been identified in the system previously.

What’s happened at Willow Burn?

The aim of the planting is to provide edge enhancement to the waterway and to provide extra shading and habitat. Our senior southern land management advisor Ian Lyttle said he was hopeful this was just the start of the project.

“We have, with the help of farm manager Tim and his staff, planted 320 carex with plant guards,” he said.

“In the long term, we hope to see this provide more shade to the waterway, which in turn provides a better and healthier habitat for our flora and fauna to flourish. We love this kind of project and want to see more like it,” Ian said.

Steps taken to improve ecosystem and catchment health:

·       Increasing the riparian buffer from 1-2 metres to over 15m in some parts

·       Planted more than 300 native carex with plant guards

This project aligns with the Upper Waitaki Committee’s goal to create a healthy environment, by protecting recreational values and ecosystem health; and enhancing mahinga kai and nohoanga.