Clean river improvements 'encouraging'

Efforts start to show pleasing results

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 07:46 09/04/2014
Fish
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
CLEAN UP: Fish passes are installed in a stream by a culvert in Kingston Road near Shannon. Lucy Ferguson, Freshwater Coordinator, Horizons Regional Council, supervises the placement of concrete, amongst the rocks, being pumped from the truck by Dave Teal of Manawatu Concrete Pumping.

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Efforts by the Manawatu River Leaders' Forum to clean up the Manawatu River are starting to show results.

Three years after the launch of its plan, the forum will release a comprehensive report on progress this week.

The findings are likely to reflect overall improving trends in nutrient levels and levels of bacteria as set out in an independent science report for Horizons Regional Council.

Horizons freshwater and science manager Dr Jon Roygard said it was too soon to attribute improvements to changes in management practices made over such a short time frame, but the results were encouraging.

"There is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to water quality but I am cautiously optimistic that things are looking up across the catchment," he said.

Independent chairman of the forum Richard Thompson said improving the state of the Manawatu River was a long-term project, but there were some promising early findings.

The Manawatu catchment was now one of the most heavily monitored and studied catchments in New Zealand, he said.

"We have an in-depth understanding of the challenges our river faces, allowing funding and effort to be directed to where it's needed most.

"Central government's Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund has also significantly contributed to our efforts and we hope to keep this momentum going."

The report will review the effectiveness of some 131 actions originally set up by the group of council, community, farming, industry, hapu and iwi leaders, and provide a snapshot of the science behind the initiatives.

Some of the achievements include the completion of three community projects, improvements to wastewater treatment plants in Tararua, Manawatu and Horowhenua, the discovery and ongoing restoration of the North Island's largest known whitebait spawning habitat, and stream fencing projects.

Just this week another fish pass, or fish ladder, was installed on the Kara Stream at Kingston Rd in the Tokomaru catchment. The pass is one of a series of eight identified as priority locations to help fish to head upstream despite manmade structures such as culverts.

In this case, the native inanga would be the main beneficiary.

They spend half their lives at sea and return as adults to fresh water.

A gentle incline has been provided for the inanga as they are not great climbers, and banded kokopu, redfin bully, longfin and shortfin eels will also be able to navigate it.

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The Kingston Rd project was a joint one between the Horowhenua District Council, Horizons, Ministry for the Environment and He Tini Awa Charitable Trust.

The report will be launched at Te Manawa in Palmerston North on Friday at midday. Members of the public are welcome.

- Manawatu Standard

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