Oroua River's improvement recognised

Last updated 12:00 06/12/2013

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The Oroua River has been recognised as one of the 10 most improved in the country, though it's still not safe to swim in.

The river, which flows through Feilding, was recognised at the inaugural Morgan Foundation River Awards.

The event celebrated rivers throughout New Zealand that have seen the greatest improvement in water quality, as measured by E coli levels, over the past 10 years.

Horizons Regional Council was among the recipients with an award for the Oroua River, which has shown an annual improvement of E coli levels of 7.7 per cent on average for each of the past 10 years.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said the council had worked with the community and the Oroua Catchment Care group to introduce projects aimed at improving water quality in the river.

"Combined with efforts by farmers to remove effluent from our waterways, stream fencing, improving discharges by industry and upgrades to the Feilding wastewater treatment plant, the improved health of the Oroua River is something to celebrate as a community-wide success," he said.

According to Horizons, E coli counts in the river, as taken at the Awahuri Bridge, improved from 660 parts per 100ml in 2002 to 115 per 100ml last year.

However, the river is not yet classed as swimmable, something Christina Paton said wouldn't happen until Feilding's wastewater was removed from the waterway.

Mrs Paton, who has been advocating for cleaner waterways across the Manawatu for many years, said farmers had done a lot in recent years to improve their impact on the environment, and now it was the turn of urbanites.

"We're still waiting for [Manawatu District Council] to file their application for Feilding's discharge," she said.

The council is undertaking a multimillion-dollar upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant and has plans to discharge some effluent to land.

The Morgan Foundation's assessment of river quality, which canvassed 301 measured river sites, found just 38 had shown a statistically significant improvement in E coli levels in the past decade.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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