Taking action to improve Waimakariri’s waterways

Tackling water-related challenges head on and taking real action to improve Waimakariri’s waterways are key focus areas for Waimakariri Zone Chair David Ashby.

Waimakariri zone Committee chair David Ashby at his farm

David, a Fernside dairy farmer who has been Chair since April 2017, says he joined the committee to “get things done”.

The Waimakariri Zone Committee is currently working on putting their sub-regional recommendations together and will submit these to Environment Canterbury by September 2018.

“With the sub-regional plan, we have a limited amount of time to get through everything so it is about taking action.

“We’ve got serious challenges to address in Waimakariri in terms of low flows, groundwater depletion, and also water quality.”

Identifying key issues

David has identified the Kaiapoi River as a key issue for the committee and says improving the flow of the river and water quality are high on the agenda.

Striking a balance between the needs of different groups of stakeholders in the community isn’t an easy process for the zone committee, however, David says he has been heartened to see increased community participation throughout the sub-regional process.

“We’ve had some really good discussions at recent public meetings.  It was great to see such a wide range of people getting involved and I hope that level of involvement continues.  We’re doing this for the community so we want to make sure we represent their views and concerns around our local waterways.”

Community based solutions to protect Waimakariri's water quality 

Silverstream is another “hot spot” which David is keen to see improved.

“Silverstream has been identified as an area of importance to the local community.  We’re working with residents and community groups to come up with solutions to improve the quality of the water.”

While there are a small number of dairy farms in Waimakariri, David says the concentration of these in the Eyre area has raised concerns.

“With 80 per cent of dairy development occurring in this area, which feeds into Silverstream, we have an issue with nitrate levels already but another concern is what will happen to those levels in the future.”

David says the committee is considering a number of options to reduce nitrate levels in Silverstream including an infiltration trial and a denitrification wall.

“We know that we need to take action now to improve this issue so we will carry out pilot studies to identify the best method of improving Silverstream’s water quality.”

With a focus on collaborative decision making, David says the zone committee works closely with the local community and interest groups to come up with options that reflect the interests of people living and working in Waimakariri.

“We’re a community-based committee so we’re looking for community-based solutions to water issues throughout the Waimakariri zone.”