Current environmental incidents

We respond to a variety of environmental incidents in the region that affect our air, water and land. Here you can find the latest serious environmental incident alerts.

This page covers alerts for unexpected or urgent incidents involving discharges to land, air, and water, where we need the public to avoid a particular area. Here's how you can report an environmental incident.

If you are looking for warnings related to toxic cyanobacteria or faecal contamination at recreational water sites, see our health warnings.

Contaminated water at Horseshoe Lake


Incident date: Tuesday 19 December 2023

In December 2023, we investigated a report of contamination at Horseshoe Lake, a wetland reserve located near Burwood Park in Shirley, Christchurch. As a precautionary measure, we advise that people and animals avoid contact with water. Signage has been erected at the site.

Latest updated: 15.00pm, Monday 12 February 2024

  • Our testing has found that the lake has higher than normal levels of contaminants. The most likely cause is a historic landfill adjacent to the lake.
  • Our scientists are now assessing these results in detail to determine the implications for the lake and any possible effects on aquatic life downstream.
  • There is no known risk to human health or drinking water, but signage remains up advising the public to avoid contact with the water.
  • We are now working with Christchurch City Council to discuss next steps.

Asbestos - North Bank of Waimakariri River


Incident date: Wednesday 6 September 2023

Last updated: 4.55pm Wednesday 6 September 2023

  • Asbestos found on north bank of Waimakariri River

    The red circle shows the area of the Waimakariri bank where asbestos has been found

    Asbestos containing material (ACM) has been discovered in an old dumping site in Waimakariri River Regional Park.
  • Asbestos is very harmful to human and animal health. To minimise harm, please do not disturb or come into contact with the waste in any way.
  • We have been advised by contaminated land experts that as long as the material remains undisturbed, the risk to human health is very low.
  • The contaminated area is on the north bank of the Waimakariri River, west of Downs Road (see map attached). Please avoid this area. We will place warning signage in the affected area as soon as possible.
  • We are working on a containment and removal plan for the contaminated material. We will provide updates on this process and what it means for park users.
  • Waimakariri River Regional Park will remain open, but please avoid the contaminated area and pay attention to warning signs.