$400,000 boost to clean up river

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 13:00 28/02/2014

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Nelson's Maitai River is set to get a $400,000 injection to improve water quality.

Concern for the state of the river has been expressed by the community, the Cawthorn Institute and in the Nelson Mail's series about the river, which runs through the heart of the city.

The Nelson City Council decided yesterday to make the issue a focal point in the coming financial year's draft annual plan by proposing a $400,000 boost to improve the quality of the river.

Once council staff have put together the plan it will come back to the council for approval on March 27 before going out to the community for consultation the next day.

Friends of the Maitai spokeswoman Ami Kennedy said she thought it was a step in the right direction by the council and the group was looking forward to working with the council any way it could.

"It's really positive to see the council has allocated this money towards the improvement of the Maitai and we will be interested to see how this money will be allocated; for example, how much will go to monitoring, compliance issues around silt buildup and water quality in the Maitai dam," she said.

The council could not say how the money will be spent as it was still working this out.

"Council is proposing a commitment of $400,000 in order to improve water quality in the Maitai. Officers have committed to bringing back a programme of works to council next month, following meetings with technical experts and staff, so more detail on how the money could be allocated will be available then," said council spokeswoman Angela Ricker.

Mayor Rachel Reese said she was delighted with the proposal and the positive reception from councillors on the issue.

"The Maitai is a treasure for our community and it's very special to people in Nelson. I am very pleased to see the general public coming together on this issue in a way that aligns with the call that has been coming from members of the Nelson Biodiversity Forum for many years for us to focus attention on the river," she said.

The river was important to the community culturally, for recreational purposes, and flood protection, said Ms Reese.

Councillors were unanimous in their support for the proposal and said they had heard the concerns of the community. Ms Reese said the river had been recognised as a top priority when the new council formed last year and she was glad to see they were in line with the community.

She hoped improving the health of the river would be one "positive legacy left by this council".

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