Nelson City Council operates a network of 28 river ecology monitoring sites across five Freshwater Management Units (FMUs), including small streams within the Nelson-Stoke urban area. Sites are monitored every month for a range of tests, and biological monitoring is undertaken seasonally for freshwater macroinvertebrates, fish distribution and spawning.
Council's monitoring network is being developed to incorporate continuous turbidity, water temperature and dissolved oxygen at permanent hydrology recorder sites, and there is a focus on aligning freshwater, estuarine and coastal monitoring to monitor catchment ecosystem health in FMUs.
Overall water quality in Nelson is highest in the forested catchments that dominate most of the Nelson land area, and poorest in urban streams at the base of the catchments. The most degraded sites monitored in the Nelson region are highly modified urban streams, and do not represent the general state of water quality across the region’s FMUs. Rivers and streams are intermittently affected by factors such as microbial contamination associated with rural and urban land use; sediment resulting from land disturbance; and stormwater in city areas.
Nelson City Council coordinates and funds freshwater improvement projects through various non-regulatory programmes including the following: Healthy Streams nelson.govt.nz/healthy-streams, Nelson Nature nelson.govt.nz/nelson-nature, Project Mahitahi nelson.govt.nz/project-mahitahi and Sustainable Land Management nelson.govt.nz/sustainable-land-management. Environmental education and citizen science monitoring in Nelson’s waterways is supported by Nelson City Council through Enviroschools nelson.govt.nz/enviroschools and Adopt a Spot nelson.govt.nz/adopt-a-spot.