From our Chair: Urban Water

As we look 2021 in the eye, it’s hard to imagine how it might pan out, given last year’s experiences.

Who, at this time last year, would have predicted 2020 to unfold the way it did?

It is quite natural for us to look ahead at 2021 with some trepidation. But at the same time, the holiday season provides us with a good opportunity to reflect on achievements made in 2020, regardless of Covid-19, and mull over our aspirations for this year.

Something that never changes or surprises here at Environment Canterbury, despite pandemics, earthquakes and the reality of implementing what needs to be done, is our dedication to ensuring the region’s water is used sustainably and is of the highest quality it can be.

Protecting our water

Water is life. Out of a list of crucial tasks and ambitions, managing and nurturing our water is the most important job that Environment Canterbury has.

Like all Cantabrians, we are charged with keeping the concept of Te Mana of Te Wai - which recognises that the health of our people and communities is reliant on the health of our water – at the centre of our thinking.

It is up to all of us, whether we live in rural or urban communities, to protect and improve our water.

We also need to recognise the amazing work that many have already done on water management.

So, at the start of another year, I really want to thank all the Canterbury councils – their staff and elected representatives – for their contributions to the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) to date.

As well, we are indebted to the many individuals who spend hours working as members of the region’s 10 CWMS zone committees and to hundreds of volunteers and landowners whose efforts to improve their local waterways feed into better water for us all.

Find out more on the Government's Essential Freshwater package and Te Mana o te Wai.

What is the Canterbury Water Management Strategy?

It’s worth recapping what the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) is.

Established in 2009 as an initiative of the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, its partners are Canterbury’s 10 territorial (district and city) councils and Environment Canterbury, and Ngāi Tahu as mana whenua.

The strategy’s collaborative, community-led approach to environmentally-sustainable water management is accomplished through the work of the Kaikōura, Hurunui-Waiau, Waimakariri, Christchurch-West Melton, Selwyn-Waihora, Banks Peninsula, Ashburton, Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora, Lower Waitaki and Upper Waitaki zone committees.

Find out more about the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

Some of our success stories

There have been some great stories of progress from around Canterbury. I’d like to share some of those and give a big shout out to the efforts of our friends in the territorial authorities and the community.

Cashmere Stream restoration project

In the Christchurch West Melton Zone, local landowners and community members armed with spades and smiles have helped the Cashmere Stream Care Group complete a four-year restoration and enhancement planting project.

Around 2,500 natives have been planted in the headwaters of Cashmere Stream. Fencing and plantings will protect the banks of the spring-fed stream against erosion and keep the water temperature cooler for the tuna/eels and bullies in the stream.

The shade provided by the plants will help decrease weed species in the stream and the habitat will be more suitable for kōura/freshwater crayfish, which have been spotted in the catchment.

Since 2016 more than $60,000 of Immediate Steps (IMS) biodiversity funding has been allocated to the project, and more than $500,000 has been contributed through labour and resource from the Christchurch City Council. The total value of the project is around $670,000.

Find out more about the project.

Love Our Lakes: 'One Poo Can Close the Lake’ campaign

Further south, in the Upper Waitaki zone, we’ve had a problem with high E.coli levels in the shallow bay of Lake Ruataniwha where people swim – with human waste being one of the likely sources.

Over summer, the Mackenzie District Council will contribute to costs for four portaloos, and the zone committee is running a ‘One Poo Can Close the Lake’ campaign aimed at recreational lake users and campers, to avoid another closure of the lake during the holiday period.

Find out more about the 'Love Our Lakes' campaign.

Le Bons Bay dump removal

Closer to home, in the Banks Peninsula zone, the Christchurch City Council has disbursed $1 million towards excavating and removing an old dump susceptible to coastal erosion at Le Bons Bay.

These are just some of the examples of collective action, facilitated through the CWMS zone committees, to bring about change in our waterways.

We all know what we want, and we all have great examples of how we can make it happen together. Bring on 2021, I say!