12 September 2017

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is increasing its investment in science and technology this year to help solve complicated water management challenges.

“We all want healthy waterways that nurture and provide for us,” council chair Doug Leeder says. “We have made real gains in protecting water quality in recent years through our catchment action plans, regulatory changes and partnerships with iwi, community and industry.

“But the cumulative effects of past land-use change are still surfacing, and the water management challenges we’re tackling are becoming increasingly complex. Science and innovation, along with compromise and investment from all sectors, will be crucial to securing clean, reliable freshwater in the long term.”

The regional council has allocated more than $30.5 million (18 percent) of this year’s $171 million budget to its work on caring for water quality and quantity.

It aims to reduce sediment and nutrient run-off through work with landowners to pinpoint and treat problem E.coli bacteria sources, trial nutrient budgeting methods and fence and plant an additional 101km of waterway margins throughout the region. Farm animals are already excluded from more than 75 percent of the region’s waterways.

Groundwater monitoring efforts are being increased and computerised models are being developed to predict groundwater flows, as well as land and water use impacts, which will help the council implement the National Policy Statement for Freshwater. The science and modelling work will be used alongside input from iwi, community groups and industry stakeholders to set new catchment-specific rules and methods under the Regional Water and Land Plan. Public consultation on proposed plan changes for the Kaituna Maketū, Pongakawa Waitahanui and Rangitāiki catchments will start in 2018.

A new online system to track nutrient discharges is being built and Rotorua Lakes farmers are being assisted to put nutrient management plans and resource consents in place under new nutrient management rules (Plan Change 10) to improve water quality in Lake Rotorua. This complements the regional council’s work on in-water treatment trials, weed removal and voluntary incentives that promote low nitrogen land-use, such as forestry and alternative cropping, to deliver further water quality improvements under the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme.

In the Rangitāiki River catchment near Whakatāne, work is planned this year to protect and restore tuna (eel) habitat and migration pathways. The work will help to improve the mauri (life-force) and overall health of the awa (river), and deliver on Rangitāiki River Forum commitments.

In the Western Bay, work to improve the health and mauri of Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi/Maketū Estuary is budgeted for through construction works to partially re-divert freshwater from the Kaituna River starting this summer. Initiatives to reduce sedimentation, mangrove spread and clear sea lettuce and litter from Tauranga Moana will continue, along with co-funding of a reticulated sewerage scheme for Ongare Point to prevent pollution seepage from aging septic tanks.

For more information about the regional council’s work to care for water, see www.boprc.govt.nz/water

Copies of the 2017/18 annual plan are available from any regional council office, libraries across the Bay of Plenty or online at www.boprc.govt.nz.