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Positive news for Canterbury water quality

Wednesday, April 18, 2018   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: water, environmental health

Environment Canterbury media release: 18th April 2018

Land Water Air Aotearoa (LAWA) has recently released its national 10-year summary trend for 2007-2016 for river water quality. The science takes a bit to understand but all the measures of water quality show more improvement than not over that period.

Canterbury's results are similar to the national results with strong positive trends for ammoniacal nitrogen (70% improving trend), total phosphorus (52% improving trend), and dissolved reactive phosphorus (45% improving).

The improving trends are good evidence that the effort and investment by farmers to reduce nitrogen leaching and fence and protect streams over the past decade is really starting to pay off.

Visit the Land Water Air Aotearoa (LAWA) website for more information.

Environment Canterbury introduced regional limits for nitrogen leaching in 2012, and some areas have set more stringent limits and rules such as Selwyn Waihora and Ashburton Hinds.

Farmers are expected now to adhere to industry agreed Good Management Practices, and document what they are doing through Farm Environment Plans - which are independently audited. Modelling shows that these actions will continue to benefit our waterways over time.

The Waimakariri Zone Committee in North Canterbury is at the sharp end of its sub-regional plan process. This community discussion continues to develop methods and solutions that will result in long-term improvements in water quality and quantity.

The challenges of having a healthy environment as well as meeting economic, cultural and social needs are not easy or pain-free. An example is water quantity where we have to balance the economic and social benefits of abstraction against the potential negative impacts on a river ecosystem, cultural and recreational values.

The flows in many of our rivers are driven by weather events in the headwaters. Long-term changes in rainfall will dictate what quantity is available.

Almost all our rivers have a minimum flow set on them by Environment Canterbury. This is the level at which water takes must stop - it does not mean the river will not continue to drop further and could completely dry up.

Water is highly valued by each and every one of us – and we all have a part to play to continue to improve water quality.

Find out more about the zone committees and water quality in Canterbury.

Claire McKay.

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