The newsletter of Environment Canterbury
Environment Canterbury’s home heating support officer Nola Collie helps bag kindling with pupils from Mt Pleasant School, Christchurch, for their kindling fundraiser. By promoting the sale of kindling we're giving wood burner users easy access to the key to a smoke-free fire. Local schools and community groups are invited to help their community to burn smoke-free by joining Environment Canterbury’s kindling fundraiser. The fundraising campaign – which began in late May – is part of Environment Canterbury’s Warmer Cheaper programme. Each bag of kindling contains instructions on how to have a smoke-free fire. The initiative is designed to help the Canterbury wood burning community have the tools they need to have smoke-free fires, have warmer homes and save on firewood. “One of the keys to a good fire is using plenty of kindling at the outset. We’ve noticed that some people aren’t using enough and they end up with a smoky fire,” Environment Canterbury Commissioner David Bedford says. “To encourage people to use plenty of kindling, we’re working with local community groups and schools to help wood burner users have easy access to affordable kindling.” All funds raised go to the community group, charity or school selling the kindling. “Many wood burner users are now making a conscious effort to check their burning technique. We want to keep encouraging more people to do this, so everyone can breathe cleaner air,” Mr Bedford says.
9 200 ing s i t r To eparticipate in the kindling fundraiser, members of a group or Adv and organisation just need to bag the kindling ready for sale. sign
Kindling is delivered in trailer loads along with bags, ties, stickers and burning instructions to pop inside the bag. This includes simple instructions for making a fire that burns smoke-free and costs less to run. Kindling orders can be placed until the end of July, and any unsold bags of kindling can be returned at no cost. Register now at WarmerCheaper.co.nz.
Giving nature a helping hand A trial near Ashburton is giving nature a helping hand by putting water back into the ground to boost stream flows, restore wells, and improve water quality. The Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) trial diverts up to 500 litres per second of clean Rangitata River water into a large pit near Tinwald (between Ashburton and Hinds), where it can soak into the ground. This area has some of the most productive farmland in the country but the groundwater also has high and rising levels of nitrate pollution as a result of intensive farming. Part of the solution to improve water quality will come from farmers reducing the amount of nitrate leaching from their land through improved practices, backed up by tough new rules. Another part of the solution is the MAR concept with the trial allowing water to seep underground, boosting spring and stream flows further down the Canterbury Plains. The extra alpine water – which has almost no nitrate – should also dilute and decrease the amount of nitrate pollution in shallow wells in the area. The trial has come about as a result of community discussions and recommendations on how to improve water quality, in particular the high nitrate levels in shallow groundwater around Hinds and Tinwald. For more on the Managed Aquifer Recharge trial see the back page
Facilitating sustainable development in the Canterbury region ecan.govt.nz
Bob Bower, the project's technical lead, points out the gravels through which water will seep.
Keep up the good work Canterbury Canterbury’s towns and cities prone to winter air pollution have responded well to the challenge to reduce smoke from chimneys, which has resulted in much better air quality overall. But we need to keep up the good work to meet national air quality standards. The Government’s National Environmental Standard on Air Quality (NES) aims for just three high pollution nights a year in Christchurch, Kaiapoi, Ashburton, Timaru and Waimate, and just one night a year in Rangiora and Geraldine. The NES, which comes into effect in September this year, sets targets for reducing air pollution in these urban areas so that, by 2020, smoky high pollution nights (where PM10 levels exceed the World Health Organisation guidelines of 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air over a 24 hour period) will be almost eliminated. If we’re to achieve these targets, homeowners have to run their wood burners largely smoke-free. While wood burners tend to be in the spotlight every winter, other sources of pollution are also in our sights, because everyone has a role to play in improving air quality. Environment Canterbury continues to work with the region’s industries, land managers, farmers and developers on how to reduce pollution caused by odour, dust, industry, and outdoor burning. In winter, though, home heating is still the greatest contributor to air pollution. The table below shows that, in Christchurch, 67 per cent of winter air pollution comes from houses using solid fuel for their heating, particularly in older burners and open fires. However only 22 per cent of homes have a wood burner. In the rest of Canterbury, between 69 and 93 per cent of pollution comes from wood burners. There are about 28,000 wood burners across Canterbury, with about 21,000 in Christchurch and 2,500 in Timaru.
PM10 FROM HOMES HOME HEATING BURNING WOOD
RANGIORA KAIAPOI CHRISTCHURCH ASHBURTON GERALDINE TIMARU WAIMATE
69 88 67 82 92 88 93
46 40 22 49 65 48 65
NUMBER OF HIGH POLLUTION NIGHTS Number in early 2000s
Number in 2015
National target from September 2016
40 30 20 10 0
The statistics from Environment Canterbury’s air monitoring sites in Canterbury towns and cities vulnerable to winter air pollution show an overall decline in high pollution nights.
New wood burner technology clearing the air Exciting developments in locally designed wood burning technology is providing consumers with more clean-burning options. Consumers can now choose between seven Environment Canterbury-approved ultra-low emission wood burners (ULEBs) this winter. More ULEBs, including two made locally, will be available soon. This is good news as new rules are being introduced requiring wood burner users to burn smoke-free and to change to cleaner heating options over time.
How low can you go? A ULEB gives out very low levels of pollution (0.5 grams of particulate per kilogram of fuel burned) when operated normally. Environment Canterbury Commissioner David Bedford says the arrival of this technology sets a new standard for wood burning technology that will help Canterbury towns and cities achieve cleaner, healthier air. Encouraging the development of new ULEBs and other cleaner and more efficient wood burning technology, including pellet fires, is a priority for Environment Canterbury. “The first ones were on the market last year and so far more than 120 have been installed in Christchurch and Waimakariri,” Mr Bedford says. “We have been encouraging industry to develop ultra-low emitting wood burners to enable more people to use wood to heat their homes while continuing to improve winter air quality. It’s great to see some locally made ULEBs enter the market as well.” The arrival of this technology sets a new standard for wood burning that will assist Canterbury towns and cities to achieve cleaner, healthier air. For further detail, go to ecan.govt.nz/ultra-lowemission
Approved ultra-low emission burners are now on the market.
Nature flourishing at Tūtaepatu Lagoon Tūtaepatu Lagoon near Woodend Beach is flourishing with more than 30,000 native trees and shrubs planted over the past five years. At the same time there’s been a huge effort to get rid of willows and weeds as well as animal pests. “More and more people are discovering and using the area for recreation, and realising what a special place the lagoon is,” Greg Byrnes, General Manager of Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust, says. “What is great is we are also seeing native species – such as the Crested Grebe – returning, breeding and surviving in and around the lagoon. “We’ve also trapped or killed more than 800 animal pests – such as cats, stoats, ferrets, and hedgehogs – which means the native birds and their chicks have a better chance of surviving.” The 49ha freshwater lagoon – tucked behind the sand dunes between Pegasus township and Woodend – is part of the Tūhaitara Coastal Park which covers more than 600ha between the Waimakariri and Ashley/Rakahui Rivers. Tūtaepatu Lagoon in Tūahaitara Coastal Park is flourishing after five years of pest and weed removal and native planting.
The funding for the planting and weed control includes $200,000 from the Waimakariri Zone Committee, $100,000 from the Trust and around $40,000 from the Department of Conservation, with additional support from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Waimakariri District Council.
Free kindling to encourage smoke-free fires This winter, Environment Canterbury is encouraging Canterbury’s 28,000 wood burner users to fine-tune their burning technique and eliminate the smoky chimneys that cause spikes in air pollution on still, cold nights. “We want to help people get more heat out of their fire and send less heat and smoke up the chimney. This will save on firewood and create a cosy home over winter,” says Commissioner David Bedford. “While we will follow up on complaints throughout winter and check for visible smoke, our first response will be to prevent smoky chimneys by helping wood burner users to fine-tune their burning technique. “If we see smoke coming from a chimney for more than 15 minutes, we will leave the householder a bundle of kindling with instructions on how to burn more efficiently, so that there is no visible smoke in future.” “It’s far better to prevent smoky chimneys at source,” Mr Bedford says. “People only need to tweak their current burning technique to enjoy warm homes and cleaner air.” “If there is visible smoke coming from a chimney it means that there is unburnt firewood which is a waste of money and heat,” he says. Learning to burn smoke-free is important to improving the air quality in Canterbury’s towns. Rules are being introduced to prohibit visible smoke (except for 15 minutes at start-up and 5 minutes for refuelling). “The best thing, after the fire has been burning for 15 minutes, is to step outside and check your chimney to see if it is smoke-free,” Mr Bedford says. “When a fire gets hot enough, the chemicals in wood that produce smoke turn to gas and steam. If you see any smoke at all after the first 15 minutes, your technique might need fine-tuning.” There are six easy steps to a smoke-free fire. To see these steps in action and to learn more, check out the video at WarmerCheaper.co.nz.
Smoke-free is better for our health Fewer smoky chimneys and less air pollution over our towns will reduce the incidence of respiratory illness which is caused by particulate matter (PM). These PM10 (coarser) and PM2.5 (finer) particles come from dust, sea salt, pollen, industry, motor vehicles, outdoor burning and home heating. In winter, the spikes in poor air quality come from smoky chimneys. Both PM10 and PM2.5 can be harmful to health: the coarse particles of PM10 are deposited in the upper airways while the fine particles of PM2.5 lodge deeper in the lungs, which means the health impacts of PM2.5 are much greater. This can cause irritation of the airways causing coughing, make it difficult to breathe, reduce lung function, aggravate asthma and harm the cardiovascular system. Elevated levels of both PM10 and PM2.5 particles are of concern to Environment Canterbury, which is why we monitor them every day and night, and why we are working with the community to improve air quality. Research supports the fact that home heating is still the main contributor to winter PM10 and PM2.5 pollution in Canterbury. In Christchurch, the data from Environment Canterbury’s two monitoring stations in St Albans (largely residential) and Woolston (largely industrial), shows that 67 per cent of winter air pollution comes from home heating, 17 per cent from vehicles, and 16 per cent from industry.
Environment Canterbury’s Timaru home heating officer Pauline Robertson delivers a bundle of kindling to a homeowner with instructions on how to have a smoke-free fire.
Understanding air quality Particulate matter (PM) is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Concentrations of PM regularly exceed World Health Organisation guidelines in winter in Canterbury.
Secondary particles form in the atmosphere by reacting gases Gases
Most emissions are caused by human activities
Primary particles originate directly from a source
Emission of pollutants
Man-made Industry, outdoor burning, home heating, transport, rural burning, dust
Natural Dust, wild fires, marine aerosols (eg sea salt)
Concentration of PM
Weather and landscape determine if particles are dispersed or trapped
Impact on people and environment
Community feedback leads to reduced fare increase The bus fare rise of 10 per cent signalled in Environment Canterbury’s draft Annual Plan two months ago has been cut back to just 2.5 per cent after Commissioners took on board the community’s response. The figure of 2.5 per cent is even lower than the 5 per cent rise signalled in our Long-Term Plan last year.
Getting on board Smaller buses New, smaller, more nimble and economical buses are being introduced on some Christchurch neighbourhood bus routes. The Red Bus initiative will see eight new buses, which seat up to 22 passengers and carry up to two bikes, introduced between now and August. Red Bus wanted to introduce the new buses on neighbourhood routes that have smaller numbers of passengers and more narrow streets. Big buses, which can carry up to 55 passengers, are not as economical to run on those routes.
Detail on the timing and exact fares for bus users will be released in advance of the fare rises coming into effect. In addition to the specific feedback about bus fares a broader range of comments about passenger transport were also received. This is valuable feedback which will be considered by staff when planning and reviewing Metro services. Feedback was also received on the Council’s performance in the water management area.
Feedback on the proposed changes signalled in the 2016 draft Annual Plan came in from 119 people. About two thirds of them commented on the proposal to increase bus fares by 10 per cent. This proposal was the Council’s initial response to a funding shortfall linked to bus patronage. Community feedback encouraged the Commissioners to reconsider the proposed funding options to cover a shortfall in operational funding,” says Commissioner David Bedford. “We’ve taken this feedback to heart and will increase fares by only 2.5 per cent. The balance of the shortfall in operational funding will come from public transport reserves.”
“Implementing the Canterbury Water Management Strategy is the Council’s top priority. This Annual Plan continues to fund the implementation of the plans and rules that will ensure water quality improves in the future,” Mr Bedford says. “It also funds the development and implementation of the programmes created by the region’s 10 zone committees.” The Council approves the Annual Plan on 23 June 2016. Our website will provide a summary of the final changes and a copy of the Annual Plan 2016/17.
Environment Canterbury back in Christchurch city
The new buses will be used on routes 535 (Eastgate – Rapaki), 107 (Styx Mill – Northlands), 108 (Casebrook – Northlands), 145 (Westmorland – Sydenham) and 135 (Burwood Hospital – New Brighton). Environment Canterbury public transport manager David Stenhouse says the smaller buses were Red Bus and Environment Canterbury’s response to requests from suburban communities. “The introduction of the new network has allowed these buses to be introduced and it is a great initiative that will help to reshape the network over the next few years.”
Environment Canterbury’s Dame Margaret Bazley, Red Bus chief executive Paul McNoe, and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel get on board the newest addition to the Red Bus fleet. Environment Canterbury’s Christchurch-based staff are delighted to be back in the city in one building again. 200 Tuam Street is an eco-friendly, five-storey building edged by four impressive oak trees in Peter Scoular Park, near the Bus Interchange.
New Waimakariri – Airport – Hornby bus A new commuter service from Waimakariri to the airport commercial and industrial area and Hornby will start next month (July 25). The new service is aimed at improving both the frequency and coverage of services in the Waimakariri area to encourage greater use of public transport, which will help to reduce congestion on the Northern Motorway. More information can be found at metroinfo.co.nz.
Bus patronage on the rise As more businesses move into the central city, more people are catching a bus to work. Bus patronage is still lower than pre-quake levels, however this drop is easing with consistent increases monthly. Environment Canterbury staff are leading by example with more than half of its 400 Christchurch-based staff using sustainable methods of travel to get to work, including the chief executive and chair of commissioners. A staff survey found 50 per cent of staff caught a bus to work at least once a week, while 38 per cent biked and 48 per cent drove. Many of Environment Canterbury’s staff did a mixture of the three, depending on the day. Environment Canterbury is confident that as more people head back into town for work, the number of people using buses will increase. Nearly 1.7 million people have caught a bus from Christchurch’s Bus Interchange since it opened on 25 May 2015, with an average of 5,560 people on weekdays jumping on board from the $53 million facility. Environment Canterbury Offices Christchurch PO Box 345 Christchurch 8140 P. 03 365 3828
Timaru 75 Church Street PO Box 550 P. 03 687 7800
Community achievement about smarter water use in shallow groundwater and the spring-fed streams. We also want to see better reliability for people with groundwater takes.
Continued from front page “The opening of the Managed Aquifer Recharge trial near Tinwald is a real achievement for the community,” Ashburton Water Zone Committee member Gordon Guthrie says.
“Over the years development has seen us take surface water and divert it across the plains for stockwater and border-dyke irrigation as well as delivering water for other irrigation.
The trial is a first for New Zealand although the idea is well established in the US and other countries.
“In recent years farmers have reduced the amount of inefficient border-dyke irrigation and open channel races.
“Local farmers have long known that water from irrigation races and border-dyke irrigation soaks into the ground and supplements springs and streams further down the plains.
“As a result less water has been getting into the groundwater aquifers causing lower well levels, reduced flows in spring-fed streams, and rising nitrate levels in shallow groundwater.
“The key to the pilot is to manage the addition of water so we get the benefits but don’t make the downstream areas too wet.
“The MAR trial is a way of dealing with the changes and farming intensification of the past couple of decades at the catchment level.”
“The benefits – which were identified some time ago by the community – include improved water quality and increased flows in lowland streams and rivers.” Project lead Bob Bower of Golder Associates says the Managed Aquifer Recharge trial is about living within our means. “It’s about using the water we have and getting smarter about it. “Our goal is to have sustainable groundwater management. What we want to see is a reduction in the nitrate concentration
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey congratulated the zone committee at the opening of the pilot in June. “It’s a courageous zone committee that has decided on this project and we are confident that the level of nitrate will rapidly begin to fall in our water,” he says.
Contact details Kaikōura 73 Beach Road PO Box 59 P. 03 319 5781
Online: ecan.govt.nz Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Customer Services: 0800 EC INFO Free phone: 0800 324 636 or Christchurch: 03 353 9007
Contact the Commissioners: 0800 COMMISSIONERS (0800 266 647) email@example.com Metroinfo Chch: 03 366 8855
Businfo Timaru: 03 688 5544 Pollution Hotline: 03 366 4663 (inside Christchurch) (24 hours) Pollution Hotline: 0800 76 55 88 (outside Christchurch) (24 hours)
Civil defence: 03 366 2359 River & flood infoline: 0900 74837 (charges apply) 0900 RIVER River report: www.ecan.govt.nz/riverreport Riverflows: www.ecan.govt.nz/riverflows