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Selwyn Te Waihora Our water story Ko ngā hau ki ētahi wāhi ko ngā kai kei Orariki No matter the season, food will always be procured at Taumutu


Time for change Selwyn Waihora is something special. The area is of cultural, natural, historic, recreational and commercial importance to many people. The original name for the lake, Te Kete Ika o Rākaihautū/The Fish Basket of Rākaihautū, is a reference to its being a major tribal resource, which has been valued by Ngāi Tahu for generations. The agricultural tradition here is strong, with farming contributing close to 30% of Selwyn’s economic success. At the same time, rapid growth means Rolleston and Lincoln are growing exponentially, and Selwyn’s economic output is a third higher than the national average. This success has come at a price, however. Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is one of New Zealand’s most important wetland systems, and central to the mana of Ngāi Tahu, but it has long been recognised that the health of the lake and its tributaries are in trouble. Water quality is less than desirable. Nitrate concentrations in shallow groundwater and lowland streams have increased, and the health of Te Waihora and local rivers needs improving. Reliable water supply is critical to this high-value economy, but flows in lowland streams and the Selwyn River/Waikirikiri have diminished. It is clear that farming intensification has had a significant impact in Canterbury over recent decades, with repercussions that were simply not foreseen by the decision makers of the time. So, water in Canterbury is under pressure. But these issues are being addressed. Over the last five years, an enormous amount of work has been done since the collaborative, leading-edge Canterbury Water Management Strategy was introduced. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s worth it. Today, the restoration and rejuvenation of the mauri and ecosystem health of Te Waihora and its catchment is a reality, and we have the Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan in place, with its tough limits on the impacts that farming can have on the environment. This booklet outlines some of what is being done. I encourage you to look a little deeper into water management in Selwyn – you can do so at canterburywater.org.nz. - Allen Lim, Chair, Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee, July 2017 2


Did you know: Your local Zone Committee is made up of people from across the community, dedicated to improving water in Selwyn. They have met with hundreds of people, they have a vision, and a solutions package which is well underway Selwyn is the fastest growing district in New Zealand  In pre-European times, Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere was twice its current size and regularly flooded to more than four metres above sea level - and in extreme times, as far inland as Lincoln  Depending on lake levels, Te Waihora is New Zealand’s 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th largest lake  Most of the nitrogen from the plains drains directly to the lake – and it can take 10-60 years to do so. This means that there’s a lot of nitrogen ‘in the post’  The Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan, legally effective in 2016, places strict water quality limits on farmers  Agreement has been reached on catchment and property nitrogen limits, and losses have been capped at a farm’s 2009-13 baseline. High emitters need to significantly reduce nitrogen losses by 2022 – dairy farms, for example, need to make a 30% reduction  New irrigation water takes have not been permitted since February 2016

The Selwyn Te Waihora catchment The Selwyn Te Waihora catchment includes Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere and the land that drains into it, bounded by the Waimakariri River to the north and the Rakaia River to the south. Between these two braided rivers are a series of hill fed rivers, lowland spring fed streams, and the waterways of Banks Peninsula that flow into the lake.

SPRINGFIELD SHEFFIELD GLEN TUNNEL HORORATA

DARFIELD KIRWEE

TEMPLETON PREBBLETON ROLLESTON

BURNHAM

LINCOLN

LEESTON SOUTHBRIDGE

 Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is not a ‘dead’ lake. While phosphorus and nitrogen levels are too high, it still supports successful $1.5 million per annum tuna (eel) and pātiki (flounder) fisheries, along with a diversity of wildlife unparalleled in New Zealand  There are many ways you can contribute to improving water in Selwyn. Your Zone Committee is a good place to start.

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Everything is connected

Springfield

Groundwater from rainfall

Sheffield

Selwyn River/ Waikirikiri

Groundwater from river

From the mountains to the sea, Selwyn’s water is an integrated, connected system with high interdependencies. Before we get to the nitty gritty of the state of Selwyn’s water, we first need to understand where our water comes from and how it reaches us. Rainfall, of course, is where all of our water originates, flowing across the plains and seeping into the gravels below. Some of the groundwater comes to the surface again lower down the plains as springs, and feeds the lowland streams that drain into the lake.

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What is done on the land impacts the waterways across the Selwyn catchment. Waimakariri River Rolleston

Lincoln

Tai Tapu Kaituna River

Dunsandel Groundwater bores

Groundwater springs, lowland streams & drains

Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere

Groundwater from Rakaia River

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Declining freshwater a short history Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere was once the pride of Ngāi Tahu and a considerable tribal resource. Today, it is one of New Zealand’s most polluted lakes. Over the past 150 years, ongoing development of farmland and townships has resulted in gradual degradation of the cultural health and biodiversity of Te Waihora, and increased nutrient levels in lowland streams and rivers. Phosphorus and sediment have accumulated in the lake from our agricultural past, and although it is still a highly productive ecosystem, Te Waihora’s mahinga kai values have been compromised. Across Selwyn, and all of Canterbury, levels of nitrogen and microbial contamination in shallow groundwater and spring-fed streams have also been rising. This may make streams toxic for fish and drinking water from wells unsafe. In consecutive dry years, our groundwater systems are stressed by the 1,700 water takes, meaning there is not enough water in lowland streams and rivers. It is going to take considerable time, effort and resource to restore and rejuvenate Selwyn’s water. Many of the consents granted for water takes between 2000 and 2005 were for a period of 35 years, meaning that the over-allocation of water will continue for some time.

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Changes in consented irrigation volume 1980-2015, m3/year.

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2014-15

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EAV (M 3 / Year)

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The new Central Plains Water (CPW) irrigation scheme will go some way towards addressing the over-allocated groundwater system, using water from the plentiful Rakaia River - including water stored in Lake Coleridge - to replace irrigation takes from groundwater. CPW will, however, increase the nitrogen load to the lake even though this load is limited under the Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan. Today, there is widespread acceptance of the need to improve water across all of Selwyn, and the Zone Committee, Environment Canterbury, NgÄ i Tahu and many other organisations are working hard with farmers and the local community to implement solutions.

What is mahinga kai and why is it important today? Mahinga kai relates to the traditional value of food resources and their ecosystems. It refers to customary gathering of food and natural materials, and the places where those resources were gathered. Mahinga kai is a cornerstone of NgÄ i Tahu culture, identity and heritage.

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Exactly what affects water quality? The four key contaminants in the Selwyn Te Waihora catchment are nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and microbial contaminants (such as E.Coli). Nitrogen and phosphorus increase pasture and crop growth when applied strategically. In excess, however, they can have serious impacts on water quality, leading to nuisance growths of slimes and aquatic plants in waterways. Land use, farming practices, soil type and rainfall all affect the amount of nitrogen lost below the soil layer. Nitrogen losses are higher, for example, under light stony soils (such as at Te Pirita, near Hororata) than under heavier soils (such as near the lake), and also higher, for the same land use and soil, at the top of the plains where rainfall is greater. Nitrogen is typically leached to groundwater and over time will reach surface water. Because phosphorus attaches to soil particles, it is more commonly lost during storm events when it runs off the land into drains, streams and rivers. Human and animal wastes are the primary source of microbial contamination in water, and can cause illness. Sources include stock in waterbodies, runoff from land where animal wastes are deposited, and seepage from septic tanks. Sediment is soil that washes off the surface and ends up in a stream. It clogs up, or smothers, the shingle in stream beds making it difficult for insects to live in the stream, and reducing important food sources for fish.

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Rain Surface runoff with sediment , phosphorus and E. coli

Nitrogen Leaching through soil

Groundwater


The long-term effect of nitrogen losses Water quality will get worse before it improves, due to the ‘in the post’ effect. Nitrogen losses from agricultural land uses contribute about 95% of the total catchment nitrogen load, although the full impact of this load is not currently being seen. Even with no further land use intensification, we can expect a 40% increase in losses from the nitrogen load already making its way through the groundwater system to Te Waihora. This load will appear in the next 10 to 60 years as a result of the effects of previous and current land use. The estimated nitrogen load currently reaching Te Waihora is 3,200 tonnes per year, and this will increase with the nitrogen already in the ground. The load to achieve 1940s nutrient levels in Te Waihora is estimated at 800 tonnes per year. To achieve this would require a totally different land use mix on the plains, with virtually no livestock grazing, and considerable community and economic disruption.

Determining appropriate limits Extensive consultation, a clear legal view, and a lot of discussion resulted in the Zone Committee recommendation that the catchment load would acknowledge the already consented further development from Central Plains Water, but with the requirement to reduce agricultural nitrogen losses by an average of 14% with a 30% reduction for dairy. The resulting nitrogen catchment load limit along with other instream and groundwater water quality limits now have legal effect under the Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan.

Want to know more about the Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan? Go to Page 16.

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Water quantity - where is it going, and how much do we have? Canterbury’s groundwater, lowland streams, the Selwyn River/Waikirikiri and the lake are all one interconnected system, where what is done on the land impacts the waterways. Dry reaches have always been a feature of the area to some degree – in fact Waikirikiri translates as ‘River of Stones’. These days, more reaches of the river are dryer, and for longer. In the past, we lacked an integrated approach to manage both surface and groundwater together, and we did not have strong enough limits on water takes to manage the effects of over-allocation. This is having an impact today. Flows in the lowland streams and the lower Selwyn River/Waikirikiri have decreased on average by 15-20%. This is a result of the cumulative effect of the groundwater takes in the catchment. Recent low levels are closely related to lack of winter rainfall to recharge the groundwater supplies, so it is more essential than ever that the water resource is managed effectively. Today, new water takes are prohibited, and there are irrigation restrictions on all takes from the Selwyn River/ Waikirikiri. Many groundwater takes have restrictions on their annual volumes. Water transfers are now discouraged and result in surrender of 50% of the transferred water.

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Water coming down a dry reach of the Selwyn River/Waikirikiri - ‘River of Stones’.

What does ‘over-allocated’ mean and how did it happen? “Over-allocation” is when a water resource has been allocated beyond limits set and freshwater objectives (such as flows to support ecological and cultural values) are not being met. The limits, and our understanding of the impact of water takes, have changed over the last two decades. Between 2002 and 2012, differing viewpoints on water rights meant that recommendations for new consents were litigated at hearings and with the lack of strong limits, often granted. The Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan reduces water allocation limits by 35% to meet flow requirements for ecological and cultural purposes. New irrigation consents are prohibited. 11


Central Plains Water Across the Selwyn Waihora zone, groundwater has been over-allocated and these historical water takes have been reducing flows in our lowland streams. Central Plains Water has consent for irrigation development using water from the Rakaia River to irrigate 30,000 hectares of previously dry land, and to enable farmers to replace their groundwater takes across another 30,000 hectares of currently irrigated land in the area. The addition of this river water, and the replacement of the groundwater consents, will leave more water in the groundwater ‘bathtub’ and have a positive impact on the flows of lowland streams. Early indications are promising. In its first irrigation season in 2015/16, farmers who are now part of CPW Stage 1 reduced their groundwater takes by 75%, leaving an additional 60 million cubic metres of water in the ground – this is four times the minimum flow in the Selwyn River/ Waikirikiri at Coes Ford. If we experience usual winter rainfall, it is expected that we will see improved flows in lowland streams in around five years due to the impact of CPW. CPW also provides a source of water from outside the catchment that can be used in a targeted way to supplement flows in the Selwyn River/ Waikirikiri and lowland streams.

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Tougher limits on nitrogen losses The new CPW irrigation will, however, lead to more intensive agriculture in the area, and consequently to increased nitrogen losses and nitrate levels in shallow groundwater and lowland streams, even with the dilution of the additional water, and it will increase the nitrogen load to Te Waihora. CPW applied for consent in 2002 when regulations on nitrogen discharges were not as strong as they now are. Once granted in 2010, CPW’s consents could not, under the Resource Management Act, be taken away. The Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan limits the nitrogen load from CPW’s new irrigation of dryland.

What next? Construction of CPW Stage 2 will be completed in late 2018. This will leave more water in the aquifers, improving flows in the lower Selwyn River.

The Central Plains Water scheme will leave more water in the Selwyn Waihora groundwater system. 13


The Zone Committee’s vision Vision: To restore the mauri of Te Waihora while maintaining a viable land-based economy and prosperous communities. GOALS A healthy Te Waihora

Kaitiakitanga recognised

Quality drinking water

Biodiversity enhanced

Healthy lowland streams

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PATHWAYS Lake rehabilitation: • Lake-level and opening management • 50% reduction in lake-bed legacy phosphorus • Restore macrophyte beds • Lake-margin and floating wetlands Farming at significantly better than good management practice (GMP): • Agricultural nitrogen limits • Reduce catchment phosphorus load by 50% Water allocation to deliver ecological and cultural flows: • New takes prohibited • Allocated volumes reduced • Water transfers restricted

Healthy hill-fed streams

Use water from alpine rivers for: • New irrigation • Replacing groundwater takes • Augmenting lowland stream flows

Thriving communities and sustainable economies

Manage catchment recognising its cultural importance to Ngāi Tahu


WHAT WILL SUCCESS LOOK LIKE • • • • • • • • • • • •

• • • •

Water quality improved Tuna and Pātiki fisheries increased Clearer water on lake margins Risk of algal blooms reduced Average nitrate levels of 8mg/l in untreated drinking wells Nitrate toxicity guidelines met in lowland streams Stock out of streams and drains Effective riparian margins on 850km of streams; 1000km of drains More native vegetation beside streams Springhead wetlands protected Stream and river flows up 15-20% Water storage prohibited in mainstems of Selwyn/Waikirikiri and Waiāniwaniwa Regional GDP $300 million higher with 30,000 ha new irrigation Farm viability maintained Takes from Waikekewai Stream prohibited Cultural landscape areas protect wāhi tapu, wāhi taonga and mahinga kai

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The Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan: the toughest farming rules in New Zealand The Selwyn Waihora section of the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan came into effect in 2016. It toughened the limits on nitrate loss from farms, and outlined the timeframe to meet those limits.

Land use consents for farmers Now, more than 900 landowners in Selwyn need a land use consent to farm if their nitrogen losses exceed 15 kilograms per hectare per year, or if their property is over 10 hectares in size and any part of their property is within the Cultural or Phosphorus and Sediment areas. Farmers requiring consent need to:

Need a hand? No worries! Ready to get your land use consent

Help is at hand is just figure out, and July lot to We know there is a You can so we’re here to help. around the corner, out our you need by checking find the information a call. website or giving us

er.farm www.canterburywat 0800 324 636

Do I need conseent? whether you need a

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Get support and advice creating your nutrient Farm Environment Plan, Management Practice. Good at budget and meeting out our events page For all the details, check ater.farm, or your industry ts www.canterburyw of independent consultan body’s website. A variety and support. l advice also offer additiona be found on the website. Contact details can

The five steps to getting the thumbs up. Prepare your

Nutrient meeting ationBudget Pre-applic a free If your nitrogen your consent, in

lodginglosses are less than 15 kg/ha/year Get prepared before you need to demonstrate a consent this when meeting with you lodge your ication consent. You can use ® one-hour pre-appl OVERSEER to make or an the 324 636 0800 us on NCheck tool at www.canterburywater.farm. planner. Contact appointment. If you have greater losses, you will need to

determin and If you need help to simply give us a call farming activity consent, we can help.

Drop-in sessions – Consents, Farm

prepare a nitrogen baseline, using OVERSEER® or an approved alternative.

s Water Plain We know there may be a delay for some Centralbudgets CPW? with water bynutrient

out There is a lot to figure Audits. Nutrient Budgets and ent Environment Plans, have a chat with Environm For help, drop in and getting your land use Canterbury staff about consent to farm. – ay of every month The first Wednesd Terrace, South 62 Services, Selwyn-Rakaia Vet Darfield, 1 – 4pm of every month – The third Tuesday Messines St, 1 – 4pm. Leeston Library, 19

For information specific

to besupplied completed, so let us know when you be, Are you, or will won’t need youdone. you are on theout, because to get yours to find waitlist Give them a call farm is managed See www.canterburywate use consent if yourr.farm to obtain a land for information. under the CPW consent. to your farm, visit 2 For information specific ater.farm www.canterburyw

Create your Farm Environment Plan

Apply for your Resource Consent to farm

Have your Farm Environment Plan audited

Apply before July 2017 if you need a consent to farm. See www.canterburywater.farm for information.

An audit of your FEP is required within one year of gaining your consent, to demonstrate you are operating at Good Management Practice. See www.canterburywater.farm for auditing information.

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Use an approved template to create your FEP. See www.canterburywater.farm for templates and industry contact details.

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Selwyn

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ortyou get started, so you can get Nice one! We’ll help Industry supp sorted this year. for preparing your

Create a Farm Environment Plan Address mahinga kai values in the cultural area Prepare a nutrient budget Apply for consent Have the Farm Environment Plan audited Make further nitrogen loss reductions from 2022 if nitrogen losses are over 15 kilograms per hectare per year.

Plan for further nitrogen loss reductions Start thinking about how you will make further improvements beyond GMP by 2022, if your losses are over 15kg/ha/year.

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1

You will need to apply for a land use consent to farm* if your farm is over 10ha, and: • Your nitrogen losses exceed 15 kg/ha/yr, and/or; • Any part of your property is within the Cultural or Phosphorus and Sediment Area

* Farms supplied with Central Plains Water will not need to obtain a separate land use consent.

Many farmers are already doing the right thing or are on track to do so. This year, Environment Canterbury has been supporting farmers with communications and advertising about getting land use consents to farm, along with community meetings, drop-in days and one-onone discussions. Got a question? I’m here to help you identify mahinga kai values on your farm and risks, and to discuss your practices to manage those risks. Together, we can restore the strong cultural and natural values in this land.

Mahinga kai guidelines for Selwyn farmers

Regular, independent auditing of Farm Environment Plans provides assurance that farmers are using Good Management Practices, and reducing nitrogen losses where required.

Mananui Ramsden Cultural Land Management Advisor - Kaitohutohu Tikanga Whenua

You’re already on the right track

If you are implementing Industry-agreed Good Management Practices you will already be managing effects on water quality and helping to protect mahinga kai. If your drains are being managed and cleaned to best practice you will also be making a significant contribution.

Riparian planting and any restoration alongside streams, drains (with water), wetlands, lakes or springs heads on your farm are also considered as protective steps to restore mahinga kai.

April 2017

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Mahinga kai? What do I need to know?

We can help Call Customer Services on 0800 324 636 • For help with whether you are in the CLVMA and need a land use consent to farm • For assistance with identifying mahinga kai species • For copies of Selw

Visit our website at canterburywater.farm

• For information to help you determine whether you are in the CLVMA and require a land use consent to farm

If you’re a farmer in the Cultural Landscape Values Management Area (CLVMA) and require a land use consent to farm, there are also additional requirements on you to address mahinga kai values. As part of your resource consent application, you will be asked whether you agree to an additional mahinga kai management objective and targets in your Farm Environment Plan (FEP). If you accept this, your practices and how they address the objective and targets will be examined during your Farm Environment Plan audits. All farmers will be audited at regular intervals depending on the g


Selwyn-specific stock exclusion requirements In the Selwyn catchment, stock access requirements are tighter than they are regionally, covering drains as well as other waterways. Within the cultural area, tighter restrictions also apply for wetlands, drains, and the beds of lakes and rivers. Environment Canterbury staff respond to complaints about stock in waterways, with more than 30 enforcement actions being taken in the first half of 2017.

Taking a closer look: Arable farming within limits •

Rotational management of crops to maximise nutrient removal following legumes or high nutrient situations

Soil conservation: increased use of minimum tillage or direct drilling to reduce soil loss and boost soil ecology, increasing the soil’s nutrient retention

Matching of fertiliser inputs to crop demands

Precision agriculture ensuring knowledge of existing residual nutrients’ location and placement of new nutrient inputs

Arable research trials demonstrate significant reductions in nutrient excesses.

For more information on the steps many farmers will need to take, go to canterburywater.farm

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Te Waihora: the situation today Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is of outstanding cultural significance to Ngāi Tahu. The lake is a tribal taonga, reflecting its importance to mana whenua from times when it was a major tribal resource. It is also the most important wetland habitat of its type in New Zealand, with a high, diverse bird population, “We shouldn’t be and it supports many native fish species. For Ngāi Tahu, Te Waihora represents an important source of mana as a major mahinga kai. Decades of settlement and farming have taken their toll and although it is far from ‘dead’, the lake has been significantly degraded. Situated at the bottom of the Selwyn catchment, Te Waihora eventually receives pollution in the form of nutrients and sediment from this large and predominantly agriculturally based catchment. Historically, extensive wetlands around the lake margins acted as a filter and played an important role in maintaining water quality, but these have been largely drained.

using the word ‘nutrients’ to describe what is going into our lake. Nutrients are associated with health and wellbeing. What is going into our lake is pollutants and toxins.”

Uncle Donald Brown, Te Taumutu Rūnanga

Causes of decline Extensive floating beds of ruppia lake plants, which had an important ecological function, are now gone. These beds provided habitat for wildlife, and anchored the bed of the lake, so that it was free of suspended sediment. The 1968 Wāhine storm ripped those weed beds out, and they have not regenerated. The decline of the ruppia beds caused a significant shift in the lake from a relatively clear-water lake to a murky, algae-dominated one. Phosphorus from agricultural land use has accumulated in the lake bed sediments. The lake is very shallow and each time the wind blows, the lake bed sediment is resuspended. This provides most of the phosphorus to the lake and increases the risk of algal blooms which cause water quality problems that can be harmful to aquatic life and people.

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Access channels cut through the lake’s ruppia beds (1940s).

“There was a time when flounder could be seen swimming above the shingle lake bottom – a time when eels were so plentiful the creeks stirred, slippery and black; and plant life was abundant and rich. It was a time of balance and health”.

Land use change since NgāiTahu.iwi.nz the 1950s

Despite its degraded state today, the lake still supports abundant fish and bird life. The poor water quality, however, means that Ngāi Tahu consider mahinga kai (traditional food) gathered from the lake to be unsuitable even though fish production is good.

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Te Waihora: what is being done? Rehabilitating Te Waihora will take time, and the collaborative work of a lot of different groups of people. A healthy lake will require more than nitrogen management. The legacy phosphorus will need to be addressed, lake openings managed, the ruppia beds restored. It’s not going to be easy, but there are bold programmes in place to return the lake to its former state.

Co-governance The lake and catchment of Te Waihora have been actively managed by Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury since 2011, when a long-term relationship agreement was signed. The agreement recognises the shared commitment to the lake and brings together the tikanga responsibilities of Ngāi Tahu and the statutory responsibilities of the regional council. Established under this co-governance agreement, Whakaora Te Waihora is a work programme to restore the mauri and ecosystem health of Te Waihora. It is possibly the most extensive cultural and ecological restoration programme in the world.

Protecting a Ngāi Tahu cultural landscape An area encompassing the lake, its margins and tributaries has been designated as a Cultural Landscape Values Management Area. The designation reflects the significance of mahinga kai, wāhi tapu and wāhi taonga (sacred or treasured) sites, and places additional requirements on farmers to address these values. This is a new approach to protection of cultural values, and support is provided by Environment Canterbury for farmers working through their responsibilities. Managing activities in this area to protect those sites and values will further restore Te Waihora to a healthy lake that supports mahinga kai.

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Lake opening management Te Waihora has no natural outlet to the sea, and was opened by generations of Ngāi Tahu before Pākehā arrival. The first written settler’s record of an artificial opening between the lake and sea was in 1852. It has been opened over 300 times since for a range of cultural and environmental reasons including addressing flood risk and allowing spring fish migration.

What will success look like? •

Restored ecosystem health of Te Waihora - an internationally significant wetland, notable for its outstanding wildlife and native vegetation values

Restored and enhanced cultural sites and mahinga kai

Protected and restored lake margin wetland habitats, with existing indigenous vegetation and wildlife

Eels migrating to sea during lake opening.

Restored lowland tributary streams and habitats

Improved lake and catchment management practices with a focus on sustainable land use and drainage practices

A robust monitoring and investigations programme established to ensure that lake management activities are adapted as required.

It is expected that it will take at least two generations, or around 35 years, to restore and rejuvenate Te Waihora, particularly taking into account the lag effect of the pollutants already ‘in the post’ through the groundwater system.

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Making a difference: On farm What are the issues? Earlier in this booklet we outlined that the four key contaminants in the Selwyn Te Waihora catchment are nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and microbial contaminants, and highlighted the future impact of land use change on the catchment nitrogen load. So, how can farming practices change to improve these outcomes?

What’s being done? The Selwyn Te Waihora Water Plan sets tough limits for farming, and in areas identified as of highest risk, such as the phosphorus, sediment and cultural zones, farms with high nitrogen losses must now have a land use consent. A Farm Environment Plan is an important aspect of the land use consent. It recognises on-farm environmental risks and sets out the Good Management Practices (GMP) needed to manage those risks and reduce contaminant losses. GMPs differ by industry, and include actions like stock exclusion from waterways, vegetated stream banks to reduce runoff, and protection of springheads, wetlands and traditional mahinga kai. Farmers also need to prepare a nutrient budget, to demonstrate the nitrogen losses from their land, and then apply for their land use consent to farm. The consent is followed up with regular, independent audits of both farm practices and achievement of nitrogen limits. This is an ongoing process – many farmers must make further reductions in their nitrogen loses by 2022. The strength of these limits will be reviewed regularly, and may be adjusted further to ensure that the planned outcomes are being achieved.

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Nutrients– getting the balance right

Good Management Practices include stock exclusion and effective riparian margins.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential nutrients to help plants grow, but when concentrated in urine patches or through overapplication of fertiliser, the nutrients can become pollutants.

What will success look like? Good Management Practices will be in place for activities like irrigation, soil and waterbody management. Wetlands and riparian margins will be commonplace alongside waterways. Farm nitrogen losses will be managed to better than GMP and within a property’s limits. Agriculture, underpinned by reliable water supply, will continue to be a significant contributor to the Selwyn economy. These measures will ensure that cultural and environmental outcomes are achieved while maintaining farm viability and economic growth. 23


Making a difference: Coes Ford What are the issues? Previously a much-loved community swimming spot, in March 2017, the Selwyn River / Waikirikiri stopped flowing at Coes Ford. These days, even when there is water at the Ford, its quality is poor, with elevated microbial contamination (E.coli levels and a risk of toxic cyanobacteria). The cause is not a mystery. Selwyn’s groundwater, lowland streams, springs and the lower Selwyn River/ Waikirikiri are all one connected system, and climate has a significant impact. Recent dry winters affected refill of the groundwater system, with groundwater irrigation exacerbating the impact. Silverstream is the source of the microbial contaminants in the river at Coes Ford – although only six kilometres upstream, the water quality at Chamberlains Ford is good for swimming.

What’s being done? A detailed plan is being implemented to make the Selwyn swimmable at Coes Ford. Restrictions on water takes from the river are already in place, new takes are prohibited, and water transfers are restricted. The Central Plains Water project will replace groundwater takes with water from the Rakaia River, leaving more in the groundwater system to support the Selwyn. An application is in place to add CPW water to the Selwyn, and further restrictions on all groundwater takes in this area are being considered. Farmers in the Silverstream catchment will be supported to reduce farm run-off into streams and drains, to reduce the microbial effect in the river.

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What will success look like? It will take time, but Coes Ford will be restored as an iconic swimming spot with plenty of good quality water to swim in.

“How can irrigators be working in the area when the river is hardly flowing?” Irrigators use deep wells to source water that is not from the Selwyn River/ Waikirikiri. Any irrigator that takes directly from the Selwyn or shallow groundwater near the stream has their take restricted when the river flow is low.

“I loved Coes Ford and now you can’t even let your dog go in there.” Selwyn resident, 2016.

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Making a difference: Our rural towns Selwyn is the fastest growing district in New Zealand, made up of many smaller towns and villages. Everything is connected, and water quality has an impact here too.

What are the issues? Good, secure community drinking water supplies are essential, and serve 70% of the population, but around 30% of properties rely on private domestic water supply from shallow wells, which are vulnerable to contamination and drying up. Since the Canterbury earthquakes, there has been rapid growth in Selwyn’s semi-rural townships. In Rolleston and Lincoln, sewerage systems have been upgraded to cope with the influx, while Darfield, for example, does not have a community sewerage scheme, with residents relying on a user-pays septic tank system.

What’s being done? A programme involving Environment Canterbury and the Canterbury District Health Board is addressing concerns around nitrate levels of drinking water drawn from shallow private groundwater wells. The programme ensures that people potentially at risk are aware of the issues and have safe water. Water from community drinking water schemes, such as for Rolleston, is safe, either treated or from deep wells.

26


Community drinking water supplies are in good shape 27


Selwyn’s water races and drains the biodiversity story In pre-European times, much of the Selwyn catchment consisted of wetland and natural waterways, which filtered nutrients and provided habitat. As Europeans settled throughout the catchment, an elaborate network of drains was built, turning wetland into dry, useable farmland. This infrastructure completely changed the landscape. Farmers follow guidelines to manage their drains, with practices to prevent stock access and bank damage, and planting riparian margins to provide a buffer between the drain and adjacent land use. Thousands of kilometres of stockwater races bring water from the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers, outside the catchment. While their purpose is to provide plentiful water for stock, 95% of this leaks out, inadvertently replenishing the groundwater. Drains and water races both provide excellent habitat for wildlife, and encourage the growth of plants which reduce the amounts of pollutants leaching into the waterways.

95% of stockwater leaks from the races, replenishing groundwater.

Immediate Steps biodiversity programme Freshwater ecosystems provide an important habitat for many fish, insects, plants and birds. They act as corridors and ‘stepping stones’ that connect different habitats and ecosystems. Each Zone Committee across Canterbury is allocated $100,000 per year in funding to support native biodiversity, through the Immediate Steps programme. Typically, landowners contribute a third of the cost of the work on their properties. The Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee’s biodiversity work is focused on protection of springheads and wetlands, enhancement of the Hororata River catchment and protection of biodiversity values in the high country. Over the past few years the focus on the Hororata catchment has developed a clear picture of existing biodiversity values and identified hotspots for future work to realise the vision of a biodiversity corridor from the foothills to the ocean.

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29

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Ki uta ki tai: Everything is connected The actions outlined in this booklet represent significant steps on the journey to restoring Selwyn’s freshwater, and the mana and cultural health of Te Waihora. Selwyn’s story confirms the concept of ki uta ki tai; that everything is connected. It has only been in recent years that this has been widely understood here. Previously, focus was on the areas where the damage is most apparent – such as in and around Te Waihora itself – without recognising that actions at the top of the catchment also matter. Tackling an area’s water issues as a whole, integrated system is a relatively new approach for New Zealand. Few communities or councils around the country have done this comprehensively, and it has become very clear that it is this approach which is driving progress in Selwyn.

What next? We all want the same thing – improved water quality in our zone. Water belongs to everybody, so we have a collective responsibility to work together to solve many of the issues. The Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee is strongly focused on solutions to the water management challenges we face. However, we don’t have all the answers, and it is through continued community collaboration that we will all get to where we want to go. There are many opportunities to get involved and make a difference. Your ideas and contributions are valuable. Farmers can improve their on-farm practices and get involved in with their industry groups. People with available time can participate in voluntary programmes such as Te Ara Kākāriki (planting natives). The whole community can use water more efficiently and consider the impact on water quality when enjoying the great outdoors. Don’t hesitate to talk to your Zone Committee or local Zone Team members – you can contact them through Environment Canterbury.

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Look a little deeper: Connect with us canterburywater.org.nz canterburywater.farm ecan.govt.nz/water ccc.govt.nz/water selwyn.govt.nz tewaihora.org/ourstories ngaitahu.iwi.nz Waihora Ellesmere Trust: wet.org.nz Te Ara KÄ kÄ riki Greenway Canterbury Trust: kakariki.org.nz CanterburyWater on Facebook Join the conversation with Environment Canterbury. Follow activity, post comments or contact our Customer Services team. ecan.govt.nz. 0800 EC INFO or 0800 324 636

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Floormat of the lamprey Eddying pools of the whitebait Sleeping ground of the black flounder Gathering place of the migrating eels

E17/6066

WhÄ riki o te piharau Ripo o te inaka Papamoeka o te mohoao WhakakĹ?haka o te tuna heke

Selwyn Te Waihora - Our water story  

This booklet outlines what is being done to restore and rejunvenate the ecosystem health of Te Waihora and its catchment.

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