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Freshwater Flash -World Rivers Day edition - September 2019

Ko te wai te ora na mea katoa - Water is the life giver of all things.

We hope you can enjoy a visit to your local awa (river) this World River's Day.

We're always working to protect and restore the region's waterways - here's some updates about our recent work. Find out more at

Freshwater reforms – Bay of Plenty information sharing sessions

We all want clean, healthy waterways to support our environment, lives and livelihoods.

Recently announced ‘Action for healthy waterways’ proposals by central government could provide some helpful tools and faster timeframes to help us all achieve that.  However there will be implications, potentially new costs and new ways of working for many of us, so it’s important that we each give our feedback before final decisions are made.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is hosting a series of information sharing events to help local people understand the proposals and get ready to make their own submissions. All are welcome to attend:

Rotorua - Monday 30 September

1-3pm at Rotorua Lakes Council Chambers, 1061 Haupapa Street, Rotorua

Awakeri - Tuesday 1 October

1-3pm at Awakeri Events Centre, State Highway 30, Awakeri

Te Puke - Wednesday 2 October

1 – 3pm at The Orchard, 20 McLoughlin Drive, Te Puke

Each session will begin with a welcome karakia and presentations by Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder and staff.  Attendees will then be able to discuss key elements of the reform package in smaller workshop groups.

The workshop topics will include:

Clarification of policy direction in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

Raising the bar for ecosystem health

 Supporting delivery of safe drinking water

 Better management of wastewater and storm water

 Improving farm practices

 Elevation of Māori values       

Regional Council policy staff will also be available to discuss information provided by the Ministry for the Environment in an informal setting, and provide advice on submission processes.

New focus catchments for Bay of Plenty

Together with landowners, Regional Council has already delivered action on the ground through more than 2000 property-level environmental plans to  reducing land run-off and protect local rivers and streams in the Bay of Plenty.

We’ll continue to offer funding assistance and practical support for landowners throughout the region. But this year, Regional Council’s Land Management staff are taking a new approach to making sure that the region’s most vulnerable river and estuary systems get the attention they need, as quickly as possible.

Staff are now putting extra effort into improving swimmability and preparing landowners for regulatory change in 12 focus catchments (shown as blue in map below) that are the region's most at risk of degradation. 

Water quality and other science information has been used to identify the focus catchments. Work with landowners is already well underway in some catchments such as Rotorua Lakes, Waitao, Ohiwa Harbour and Waoitahe. Staff will soon be reaching out to tangata whenua and locals in newer focus areas, to discuss options for making meaningful change and start developing detailed action plans. 

To find out more, contact your local Land Management Officer by calling 0800 884 880 or email

Kaitikati locals break down fish barriers

Community volunteers have been working with Regional Council staff to restore fish access in local streams around Katikati. 

Structures like culverts and drains in waterways can prevent native fish including whitebait species from being able to move through streams to breed and feed. Watch the video below to see how we can make a difference for local fish life.

LAWA national trends released

Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) has today released updated water quality information for over 1,400 river sites. As well as state and trend information at these sites, trends have been aggregated at a national level to provide an overview of how New Zealand’s waterways are tracking.

The National River Water Quality 10-year Trend Summary (2009–2018) is available on the LAWA website. It is based on data collected by regional and unitary councils across nine key water quality indicators, which has been been independently verified and collated by Cawthron Institute.

The national analysis shows a mix of degrading and improving trends across nine water quality indicators. See site-level information on the LAWA website to explore trends for the local waterways you're most interested in. 

Not all Bay of Plenty Regional Council monitoring data aligns with LAWA trend reporting criteria. A snapshot of the current state of the region's water quality (as at December 2018), is available here.

Floating wetland trials for farm drains

Floating wetlands are being trialled in drains at two sites near Maketu and Pukehina to explore whether they can be an effective tool for improving drain water quality.

A range of plant species are being tested, to determine which species work best and how much nutrient load they can absorb.  Here’s a video of the team setting the floating wetlands up earlier this year.

Kopeopeo dredging work complete

Dredging work by Regional Council contractors to remove 35,000m3 of contaminated sediment from the Kopeopeo Canal has now been completed.

The canal, which runs into Orini Stream and the Whakatāne River, was contaminated with dioxin in the 1950s-80s by stormwater discharges from a former sawmill that treated timber using Pentachlorophenol (PCP).

The $15.5 million clean-up project has been jointly funded by Regional Council and Ministry for the Environment. Read more>>

28,060 catfish caught in 2018-19 year

Regional Council, Te Arawa Lakes Trust and community efforts to remove catfish from Lake Rotoiti are paying off. Regional Council biosecurity staff and contractors doubled the amount of nets set in 2018/19 compared to the previous year and have managed to reduce the catfish population in Rotoiti by 18 percent.

Catfish are an unwanted pest because they lower water quality when they stir-up mud to feed/ They are also a predator and competitor of native fish, koura and trout. Check out the video below or read more here

Mānuka planting to help waterways

A family in Rotorua made national news recently for the work they’re doing to reduce nitrogen levels in local waterways, by replacing the gorse on their property with 120,000 native plants. Read the media release or check out this video to find out more.

Regional Council has been supporting the family’s efforts through our Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme partnership with Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Rotorua Lakes Council.

Research partnership explores lake changes

Regional Council’s freshwater scientist James Dare joined a multi-agency team of scientists and iwi earlier this year, to collect sediment cores and water quality samples from nine Bay of Plenty lakes.

The local samples will be used as part of a set collected from 380 locations nationwide, to characterise the health of New Zealand’s lakes.

The analysed findings will be interwoven with mātauranga Māori to explore how our lakes, including their water quality, plant and animal communities and surrounding landscapes, have changed over the past 1000 years. See more at


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