Community backs water quality project

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A three-year project to increase community understanding and awareness of water quality and resource management in the Kakanui catchment has received an enthusiastic response.

NZ Landcare Trust began work on the project recently and Phil Keene, Canterbury regional co-ordinator for the trust, said the community had been supportive.

“We’ve got quite big numbers involved and we’ve formed a management team with the North Otago Irrigation Company, Waitaki District Council, Otago Regional Council, Federated Farmers and we’ve got John Laing of the Kakanui Ratepayers and Riverwatch group.”

He said there had been issues with phosphorous in Waiareka Creek and nitrate in the Kakanui River and the Otago Regional Council had reported concerns regarding water quality.

“There are also some concerns regarding erosion and the intensification of dairying. The thrust is to work together to come up with a vision for the catchment and how we can improve things so we have resilient communities and farms,” Mr Keene said.

The project includes building an ecological monitoring system, to provide information on the productivity of the in-stream and terrestrial systems in the catchment.

This information could be used by community and school groups, as well as providing value to landowners – helping with the design of farm plans.

The project developed from an initial meeting with farmers and community members at Enfield in March, 2012, when concerns were expressed at declining water quality and erosion in the Waiareka sub-catchment.

By CHRIS TOBIN