Source to mouth plan in the pipeline

Not pretty: The scruffy banks of Lyell Creek which are covered in either dead or abundant weeds
Not pretty: The scruffy banks of Lyell Creek which are covered in either dead or abundant weeds

A grand plan for tidying up Lyell Creek may be in the making and some residents and business owners are welcoming the news after the waterway has received so much bad publicity.

Lyell Creek runs from Snowflake Stream in the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges, through the Kaikoura flats, behind State Highway 1 and through town to the sea.

Along the way it is subject to a vast number of potential pollutants, from the dairy industry at which the finger has historically been pointed, to run-off from the highway from accidental spraying to bad industry practices.

The creek has long been a focus of concern for Environment Canterbury (ECan) with consistently high E. coli readings posing health risks and earning the creek and surrounding area a red zoning, signalling poor water quality.

Now the Kaikoura Water Zone committee hopes to address the creek from source to mouth and hope for co-operation from neighbouring landowners, business owners, residents, creek users and any other members of the community wishing to see an improvement in the waterway.

The committee met last week and went on a field trip to sites up the creek.

Members looked at examples of good and bad fencing, riparian planting, and specific projects which are helping the creek's health.

They finished in town, meeting West End business group representatives Matt Chambers and Pam Whitehead, who have both been calling for action on the creek, as well as other improvements for the town's aesthetics.

Though the water zone group's primary focus is the health of the creek, Mrs Whitehead said she would like to see some work done on the look of it, saying it ought to be more inviting to visitors.

Both bridges in town over the creek were used frequently, and it was a shame the banks could not look more like the Taylor River in Blenheim, which was beautifully planted with flaxes, she said.

Mr Chambers agreed that the creek needed to look sharper because it was viewed by so many people.

He was hoping to see a more collaborative approach between the different agencies responsible for the land on either side of the creek, as well as getting the community involved so they could feel some ownership.

ECan Kaikoura manager Kevin Heays said any polluting of the creek, from dumping carcasses, to litter, to allowing stock effluent run-off, could all incur a fine of up to $400 under the Litter Act, which was administered by the district council.

Prosecution was also an option, he said, and ECan could promote either prosecution or a fine if it was necessary.

Water zone committee chairman Derrick Millton said yesterday that he had been contacted by a member of the Kaikoura Boardriders who were keen to offer assistance in cleaning up Kaikoura's waterways. Mr Millton said this was encouraging.

He hoped more members of the community would also come forward with suggestions and offers of help in the new year so that work could be co-ordinated.

Kaikoura Star