Discharge to waterway, Saltwater Creek
We are responding to a report of a factory wastewater spill at Saltwater Creek in North Canterbury.
Update 9: Friday 22 September 2.00pm
Update from Environment Canterbury and Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand – Waitaha Canterbury
- Test results from water samples taken three days after the spill indicate that the water quality in the affected area has returned to what it was before the incident. This means people can resume fishing, including whitebaiting.
- However, this does not include shellfish. Further tests are required on shellfish to check whether they’re safe to consume.
- For now, people must continue to avoid gathering shellfish in Saltwater Creek and the wider Saltwater Creek and Ashley/Rakahuri estuary.
- Other types of mahinga kai, including watercress, can be consumed but washing them in clean water first is advisable.
- At this stage, we are unable to release further details about the wider test results, due to the ongoing investigation. However, we are confident the deaths to whitebait and other fish were caused by depleted oxygen in river water as a result of the spill.
- We appreciate this has been frustrating for those who like to spend time at the waterway, and we thank the community for its patience while the test results were being processed by the laboratory.
- We will continue to provide updates as and when we can.
- Please share this message with anyone who may be visiting the area.
- We’ve had reports of a large discharge from a factory east of the Ashley township.
- The spill appears to have stopped.
- The wastewater is toxic to fish and other aquatic life.
- So far we know bullies and tuna/eels are affected.
- People and animals should avoid contact with water in Saltwater Creek and the estuary - and should not fish, whitebait or harvest mahinga kai.
- If you see affected wildlife, do not touch it - call 0800 765 588.
- An incident response team is on its way to the scene. An update will be provided once the team has assessed the site.
- We continue to assess the impact of a factory wastewater spill at Saltwater Creek in North Canterbury, and an investigation is underway.
- The spill has stopped, but it has affected the waterway from the Beatties Road end, through to the estuary on the upper side of State Highway One.
- Several signs have been put up warning the public to stay away from the water and to keep animals away.
- Water tests are being carried out.
- Staff from various agencies are on the ground alerting the public, including whitebaiters.
- Fish, including bullies and tuna/eels, are affected. It’s important that people do not fish, whitebait or harvest mahinga kai in the area.
- Those who know people who could be heading to the creek or estuary over the weekend, such as for whitebaiting, are asked to share this message.
- If you see affected wildlife, do not touch it - call 0800 765 588.
- Update 2 below is still relevant, so please refer to this for important information.
- In addition, our staff are removing a number of fish from Saltwater Creek and transporting them to other, healthier waterways.
- At least six species of fish and tuna/eels have been identified as being affected by the spill.
- We ask people, including whitebaiters, to stay away from the creek and estuary for now.
- We can’t comment on specific details about the incident due to the active investigation that is underway.
- Our next update will likely be on Monday 4 September.
Updates 2 and 3 below are still relevant - please read these for important information.
Please do not fish, whitebait or harvest mahinga kai in:
- Saltwater Creek (North Canterbury)
- The wider Saltwater Creek estuary
- The Northern parts of the wider Ashley/Rakahuri estuary.
People and animals should avoid contact with water in Saltwater Creek and the Northern parts of the wider estuary.
Please share this message with anyone you think may be heading to this area this weekend.
- Our teams remain on the ground today, taking water samples and making assessments around wildlife recovery.
- We are working on getting a full picture of the nature and type of discharge, but we are not expecting to have this from our water testing and investigation until the end of the week.
- It is very important that people and animals avoid contact with the water in Saltwater Creek and the wider Saltwater Creek and Ashley/Rakahuri estuary until we give the all-clear.
- It is very important that you do not consume fish, whitebait or shellfish from the area.
- If you have any health concerns relating to this incident, please contact your GP.
- We are in the process of planning the clean-up operation.
- The investigation into how the incident occurred is ongoing. Any decision around enforcement action won’t be taken until we've gathered the necessary information.
- We urge people to pay attention to the signs placed around the area and to share this message with others who may have gone or are planning to go there.
- As we head into the weekend, people and animals must avoid contact with the water in Saltwater Creek and the wider Saltwater Creek and Ashley/Rakahuri estuary.
- It’s very important that you do not consume fish, whitebait or shellfish from the area. We are continuing to work on a clean-up plan to collect dead fish, although many are being washed out to sea.
- We are still waiting for key test results from our water sampling. The laboratory we’re working with has indicated these may not be ready until next week at the earliest. We appreciate this may be frustrating, but public health remains the priority.
- The investigation into how the incident occurred is ongoing. To preserve the integrity of the investigation, we can’t yet discuss further details around this.
- For now, we ask people to obey the signage, and to share this message with anyone who may be heading to the area.
- We are still waiting for key test results from our water sampling, so our previous messages about avoiding contact with the water in Saltwater Creek and the wider Saltwater Creek and Ashley/Rakahuri estuary, still apply.
- The laboratory we’re working with has indicated that key results should be ready this week. We need to have the full picture before we can give the all-clear.
- We appreciate this wait is causing frustration in the community, especially with whitebaiting season underway. We recognise that whitebaiting is an important time of the year for many, who will be disappointed by the disruption.
- However, public health must remain the priority.
- For now, we ask people to continue to obey the signage, and to share this message with anyone who may be heading to the area.
- We thank you for your patience, and will provide an update as soon as we can.
- Unfortunately, the test results we’re waiting for are taking longer than expected. We are sorry for this delay, but we do need these to independently verify the substances that were spilt and to give the all-clear.
- We completely understand that the situation is very frustrating for many in the community, especially those wanting to whitebait. The fact that the incident took place at the very beginning of the season only adds to the frustration.
- We’re continuing to share our updates with media, Rūnanga, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha Canterbury, the whitebaiting arm of the Department of Conservation, and Waimakariri District Council.
- Our staff visit the area regularly to assess wildlife and any clean-up requirements.
- The investigation into how the incident occurred is ongoing, and as previously mentioned, we can’t go into details on the likely outcome.
- Once again, we appreciate that people are keen to get an update on the situation as soon as possible. We also appreciate that many have their own view on the current safety of the water. However, we strongly advise people not to consume or sell fish that’s been caught in the area until we give the all-clear. For those ignoring the warnings, we urge them to consider the potential health impacts for themselves and others.