Progress in Canterbury’s freshwater

Published: May 5, 2016

News type: Local news   

Environment Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN) says there are real examples of the progress in improving water quality and the natural environment in Canterbury.

The council says two good examples are the Waikakahi Stream in South Canterbury and Harts Creek, a spring fed tributary of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. Twenty years ago the Waikakahi was best described as a muddy bog with unfettered stock access; it has now been restored to a much improved waterway with healthy stream life. Hart’s Creek has benefited hugely from 15 years of community and council action to restrict stock and establish native plants along its banks and is now returned to the highly valued fishery of the past.

Throughout Canterbury there are hundreds of other projects to improve waterways and ecosystems along with the work individual farmers have been doing to restrict stock from getting into creeks, streams and rivers.

ECAN acknowledges, however, there is a lot of work still to do on reducing the nitrate load in groundwater and consequently in Canterbury's spring fed streams, which has been caused by decades of increasingly intensive farming. ECAN has already brought in strong rules to restrict and reduce the nitrate load from farms.

The council is now working with farmers and the industry to encourage a culture of continuous improvement and ensure every farmer adopts, and documents, the Good Management Practices needed to reduce nitrate leaching and ultimately improve freshwater quality. This has taken huge creativity, innovation and trust from everyone involved as they work towards the same goal: to protect and improve Canterbury's freshwater for now and future generations.


For more information please contact LGNZ’s Director of Advocacy, Helen Mexted, on 029 924 1221, email

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