27 April 2017

Findings in a national report on freshwater have confirmed Bay of Plenty’s decision to invest $24 million each year into working with locals to protect and improve our rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers.

Our fresh water 2017, the first dedicated report on fresh water in New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series was released today by the Ministry for the Environment and will become a baseline for tracking change over time.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Science Manager Rob Donald says the results largely reflect what is occurring in the Bay of Plenty and reinforce the council’s work as part of implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

“While we have yet to go through the report in detail, we’re pleased to see that it shows that our lakes monitoring is on track and we’re seeing improvements in our lakes’ water quality.

“This is largely due to proactive interventions being delivered by the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme.”

Strategy and Science Manager Ian Morton said the report highlighted some worrying trends nationally for fish species, but said there was plenty of work taking place across the Bay of Plenty which was showing promising results for our native fish species.

Fish surveys showed some exciting results in the region with two endangered native fish (Dwarf Galaxiads and koaro) found in a number of upper catchment streams. It was the first time koaro have been found in the Rangitāiki catchment.

“Koaro have been found in the Ikawhenua Ranges at four sites which seems to confirm the success of a trap and transfer programme which has been carried out by the Kokopu Trust as part of the Matahina Dam consent.

“We’ve also discovered new populations of dwarf galaxias in three small streams draining the ranges – the Ohutu, Hikurangi and Horomanga.”

In addition, a joint project with the Department of Conservation, Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Ngāti Rangiwewehi to help native fish has had positive results. This includes the installation of a weir in Hamurana Stream near Rotorua, providing a barrier to prevent trout moving into the upper reaches of the stream, leaving the habitat safe for our native fish, especially koaro. The weir doesn’t stop the koaro as they are famous for their ability to climb steep waterfalls and rocks. The outcome is also a win for downstream users as there are still trout in the lower reaches of the stream for recreational fishermen.

Other work taking place across the region includes the regional council working with community groups and landowners in the Kaituna Water Management Area to restore inanga spawning and rearing habitat, and with the Nukuhou Saltmarsh Care Group to do the same.

“This work taking place on the ground links with the work our scientists are doing to improve our knowledge on fish spawning habitats and passage.”

The regional council is currently strengthening water allocation limits through a Region-wide Water Quantity Plan Change, while it  also work with communities to set water quality and quantity targets for specific areas and waterways.

“This is part of our work to implement central government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. We’ve started with the Kaituna Maketū, Pongakawa Waitahanui and Rangitāiki catchments. This work will roll out to other parts of the region in the coming years,” Mr Morton says.

People are encouraged to visit www.boprc.govt.nz/freshwaterfutures for further information about the regional council’s water work and to sign up to our Freshwater Flash e-newsletter.