Living here Spring September 2016

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The newsletter of Environment Canterbury

living here

Spring 2016

Waimakariri flood protection project builds strength and resilience A multimillion dollar project to provide more flood protection to Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn districts is taking shape on the banks of the Waimakariri River. When complete, the $40 million Waimakariri Flood Protection Project will deliver an additional 30km of secondary stopbank, providing back-up flood protection. There is already an extremely good level of flood protection for the Waimakariri River, with the primary system designed to protect people in the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts and Christchurch from a 500-year flood event. Even so, if the primary system were to breach, it could result in major floods through urban areas of Kaiapoi and Christchurch. To further protect these areas, Environment Canterbury started construction on the Waimakariri Flood Protection Project in 2009.

The first 15km length of completed secondary 9 stopbank goes 200 from the Northern Motorway Bridge ing s i t r e Bank at McLeans Island. The remaining dvCross Ato and work will extend 15km upstream to Thompsons sign Road at Halkett, and will be completed over the next four years. Flood protection on the northern side of the River has already been strengthened through stopbank upgrades and rock lining. Many areas in Canterbury have been struck by major floods over the past 150 years. In Christchurch,

floodwaters were sometimes knee-deep in the central city in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Canterbury facing third dry year

During early European settlement, regular river overflows occurred over the floodplain areas within and around Christchurch and Kaiapoi.

Streams and rivers are likely to run dry again over the summer as a result of what is shaping up to be a third year of low rainfall on the Canterbury Plains.

Since the primary stopbank was completed in the 1930s, the Waimakariri River hasn’t flooded through the city. However the most recent breakout, which occurred during the December 1957 flood, flooded parts of Coutts Island in Belfast and Kāinga. Environment Canterbury principal river engineer Ian Heslop is pleased with the progress made and greatly appreciates the cooperation from the landowners and leaseholders affected by construction.

Farmers have been dealing with the effects of low rainfall for the past two seasons and are now facing a third difficult season. Farmers who use water from lowland rivers will be facing restrictions on their water takes earlier than usual this year if the dry conditions continue. While there has been good snowfall and rainfall in the mountain areas – feeding the big braided rivers such as the Rakaia, Rangitata and Waimakariri – not enough rain has fallen on the Canterbury Plains where it’s needed to recharge the underground aquifers. Christchurch has a very reliable supply of artesian groundwater but this hasn’t been topped up by rainfall recharge in the west and north of the city over the past couple of years. The effects are likely to include local streams drying out as they did last summer, particularly in the west of the city, as a result of low rainfall.

“We’re working hard to keep the project on track. While the Waimakariri hasn’t played up since 1957, that’s no reason to be complacent. The project works will add strength and resilience to the flood protection system, and significantly lower the risk of break-out during a major flood.” Other important works include an upgrade of primary stopbanks and rock bank work to improve protection for the Waimakariri District, parts of Selwyn District and the Coutts Island and McLeans Island areas.

See the back page for some quick facts on the project

Carl Hanson, groundwater science manager for Environment Canterbury, says streams in Christchurch are likely to run dry again if the rain stays away.

See inside for more on Canterbury's water story

Facilitating sustainable development in the Canterbury region


Does irrigation affect Christchurch water level

Irrigation in inland areas has little direct effect Christchurch groundwater. On average, rainfa than twice the amount of water used for irriga braided rivers also seep to groundwater. In dr means groundwater levels drop and spring-fe At these times irrigators face strict limits on h they can use.

Emma, Chalk the dog, Darryl Brown, and zone manager Andrew Arps on the Brown’s farm in Eyreton just north of the Waimakariri River in North Canterbury.

Environmental planning on farms becoming everyday life Eyreton farmer Darryl Brown is discovering positive environmental and economic benefits for his farm after joining a pilot project run by Environment Canterbury to help farmers complete Farm Environment Plans. A Farm Environment Plan is a tool used by farmers to understand and mitigate the environmental impact of their farm. One hundred farmers in Waimakariri and Selwyn districts are part of the pilot aimed at helping farmers complete their Plans. Darryl has already started making improvements to his 485 hectare horse and dairy farm after joining the pilot. “It’s a bit scary at the start but as you get into it you see that you’re making decisions which benefit your farm and the environment. We’ve already got plans to make our irrigation systems more efficient with increased monitoring. “Making the entire farm more efficient means using less resources and having more money in the bottom line.” Environment Canterbury’s Andrew Arps says the project is helping farmers. “Being proactive and getting to know farmers is a really important part of the process. We’re helping them to understand why it’s important to do a Farm Environment Plan and how this can benefit their farm and the environment.” Darryl says the process of record gathering and putting together a farm mapping system has given him a much better overview of his entire farming operation. “Since 1968 the farm has grown from 91 hectares to well over 400 hectares so we’re definitely having an impact on the environment.

Looking at the farm as a whole and using the mapping system to identify areas where we’re under or over irrigating is really helpful.” Andrew says the real success of the pilot actually comes from seeing environmental planning being part of everyday life and accepted business practice for farmers.

What is a Farm Environment Plan?

On the Canterbury Plains farmers have made substantial progress towards fencing and planting stream margins to keep stock out of the water and protect from sediment and runoff. For instance, nearly 99% of dairy farms which supply Fonterra have now been fenced.

In the past year more than 2200 farmers in Canterbury have developed a Farm Environment Plan to help them understand and mitigate the environmental impact of their farming operation. Overall 5000 farms will need to develop Farm Environment Plans. The Plans are followed up by an independent audit which assesses whether the farmer is doing what they said they would. Based on performance against the Plan, the farmer is then graded A, B (acceptable) or C, D (not acceptable). Farmers who receive two consecutive C or D grades are highly likely to face compliance action from Environment Canterbury and if they fail to make the necessary improvements, could ultimately lose their consent to farm.

How groundwater flows under the Canterbury Plains near Christchurc Direction of groundwater flow Fine sediments

Groundwater does not flow thro Coarser sediments No groundwater, sits above the

In the Canterbury High Country there are also rules to protect streams and sensitive ecosystems. In these areas there are fewer animals roaming Groundwater from rainfall over much larger areas and the cost of fencing every small stream may not be feasible. In particular the rules prohibit stock from disturbing How groundwater flows under the Groundwater from river inanga (whitebait) spawning habitat as well as giving a better definition Canterbury Plains near Christchurch of a braided riverbed so that it’s easier to comply. Farm Environment Plans include actions aimed at keeping stock outof of groundwater flow Direction streams and lakes.

Fine sediments Groundwater does not flow through easily

Three dry years means early irrigation restrictions Coarser sedimentslikely All water takes in Canterbury – whether from rivers or groundwater – are subject to controls which are designed to protect the water resource, ecosystems and stream-life. River levels are monitored closely and when they are low, as they are likely to be this coming summer, Environment Canterbury puts restrictions in place. Almost every river in Canterbury has a minimum flow level below which all water takes must stop.

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The Farm Environment Plan approach, which Environment Canterbury is requiring in many areas, helps farmers think about environmental risks. It often involves taking advice from rural professionals and putting in place good management practices to address those risks and minimise any impact on water quality.

Keeping streams and rivers clean Canterbury has the most comprehensive rules in New Zealand for dealing with stock access to waterways. The guidelines for responding to complaints about breaches of those rules have recently been updated and staff training has been increased to improve response times.

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This year these restrictions are likely to come in earlier than usual.

which don’t affect flows,the are less likelytable to be affected. No groundwater, sitsriver above water

If the weather stays dry, however, farmers who use water from from rainfall Farmers who use river water or water from shallow bores Groundwater deep groundwater may also be subject to restrictions due to the connected to rivers are affected first; they get daily updates limits on how much water can be taken in a season. on whether they are able to take water, and if so how much.Groundwater from river Environment Canterbury is ensuring water restrictions are Farmers who irrigate using water from the large alpine rivers, enforced, alongside working with farmers so that they have the from water stored in lakes, or from deep groundwater wells help that they need.

erbury’s groundwater story


Where does Christchurch’s water come from?

t on all supplies more ation. The big ry periods it ed rivers dry up. how much water

Around three-quarters of Christchurch’s groundwater comes from the Waimakariri River to the north of the city. The rest comes from rainfall to the west and north of the city. The water from the river and rainfall seeps into the gravels and flows towards the city at up to 25 metres per day.

Is Christchurch water protected from contamination? Waimakariri River Kaiapoi

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Christchurch’s groundwater supply is famously pure. To protect it there are rules controlling land-use in the areas north and west of the city which minimise the risk of contamination. Much of the area is used Pūharakekenui/Styx for very low River intensity stock grazing and recreational parks.

Ōtautahi/Christchurch Ōtākaro/Avon River


Waimakariri River

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Pūharakekenui/Styx River

Ōtautahi/Christchurch Ōtākaro/Avon River

Why do some urban streams dry up?


Christchurch’s streams and rivers are fed by springs around Christchurch which bubble up from groundwater. These spring-fed streams dry up, particularly in the west of the city, when rainfall is low.

ough easily

What is an aquifer? water table

This is an underground layer of rock or sediment that water can flow through. This happens in rocks that have small holes between the sand or stones (porous), provided the holes are connected (permeable). The water flows downhill – similar to an above ground river – but much slower (perhaps a few metres per day).

Aiming for 100 per cent of water meters in place across Canterbury Every water user who is required to have a water meter is expected to have one installed before the irrigation season starts in spring, Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield says. Over the past five years Environment Canterbury has worked with around 5900 water consent holders across the region to ensure they have water meters installed.

By May around 500 had not complied, but an intensive effort over the winter has seen almost all consent holders install meters. Environment Canterbury issued more than 60 abatement notices and four infringement notices (a fine) to consent holders who had not yet complied. All water takes of five litres per second or more need to be metered under the Government’s national regulations.

In the coming season the focus will be on cracking down on low flow breaches during times of water restrictions, as well as dealing with breaches where water users exceed their consented volume. Abatement notices (listing the name of the consent holder, consent number, and the summary of actions required) will be published on Environment Canterbury’s website in response to the public’s desire for increased transparency around enforcement action.

Help spring-time nesting birds The birds may:

If you’re out and about in Canterbury’s riverbeds over the next six months, look out for nesting birds. Their nesting season began in August and lasts until about February.

• loudly or agitatedly call at you, your dog or vehicle • attempt to ‘dive-bomb’ you (often by flying directly at your face, or by defecating over you) and/or

Nests can be difficult to spot as the eggs are the colour of surrounding stones to camouflage them from predators.

• feign injury such as pretending to have a broken wing or

People can unknowingly cause damage by walking on the eggs, driving over nests, and allowing dogs to chase and harm birds. Look for large groups of birds on the river bed as this could indicate a nesting area.

This means they are trying to attract you away from their nest or chicks, so it is important to leave the area immediately. Retreat quickly and carefully until the parent bird’s aggressive behaviour subsides.

pretending to collapse on the ground exhausted.

Getting on board Driving positive change: Christchurch and Timaru Most people find bus drivers friendly and helpful according to Environment Canterbury’s annual Metro user survey. The latest survey shows 95% of passengers are satisfied or more than satisfied with the helpfulness and attitude of their driver in greater Christchurch. The survey of more than 2000 passengers also found 94% were satisfied with the overall public transport system. Meanwhile, the Timaru Metro user survey found 98% of the 206 bus passengers surveyed were satisfied with their trip and 97% were satisfied with the overall public transport system. Environment Canterbury is always looking for ways to improve its public transport operations. Staff member Andy Dimond is working on a bus driver engagement project which aims to improve feedback and support for Metro drivers.

The nest of a critically endangered Black-billed Gull, the rarest gull in the world, that breeds only on New Zealand’s braided rivers.

“Drivers have a lot of valuable information about what goes wrong and right on the buses, so tapping into this will help us improve experiences for both passengers and drivers,” he says. “As part of this we recently completed a survey of Metro bus drivers. The results of the survey will be used to prompt change and improve conditions for both drivers and bus users.”

The Banded Dotterel is a threatened native species that breeds in Canterbury’s unique braided rivers.

Waimakariri Flood Protection Project • The Waimakariri Flood

Protection Project spans 40km, from the sea to Halkett.

New commuter service

If you live in Waimakariri and work near Christchurch Airport or Hornby, there’s a new bus service available to take you there and back. More than 1700 people travel from the district to these areas daily for work so the #960 Rangiora-Hornby via Airport was designed to help alleviate congestion on the Northern Motorway by encouraging people out of their cars.

To make it easier to catch the bus, the Waimakariri District Council has provided free Park & Ride facilities in White Street (Rangiora) and Silverstream (Kaiapoi).

2 80,000 tonnes of rock has been placed along riverbanks to strengthen the flood protection system. The rock is sourced from the Regional Council’s quarry at View Hill near Oxford. 3 15,000m3 of gravel has been taken from the River to build new stopbanks.

See the front page for the full story The areas of Kaiapoi and Christchurch that the Waimakariri River Flood Protection Project aims to further protect from the risk of flooding.

Canterbury’s air is getting cleaner Save money with a Metrocard Metrocards save bus users at least 30% on travel, and because using the cards makes it faster to board the bus, they help make the bus service more reliable. “By using a Metrocard, you’re paying the cheapest bus fare possible.” Commissioner Rex Williams says. I’d urge anyone who doesn’t already use a Metrocard to get one. It’ll save you at least 30% on your travel plus it gives you a set price for daily and weekly travel. “Topping up your Metrocard is also easy and convenient. You can do it quickly online on our Metroinfo website and it means you don’t have to worry about carrying cash,” he says. A list of places to buy your Metrocard is available on or call (03) 366 8855 for more information.

Environment Canterbury Offices Christchurch PO Box 345 Christchurch 8140 P. 03 365 3828

ISSN: 1175-3528

Timaru 75 Church Street PO Box 550 P. 03 687 7800

The efforts of Canterbury people learning to run their wood burners without having a smoky chimney is paying off with a significant reduction in the number of high pollution nights across the region this winter.

“We have been working with the heating industry to encourage the development of ultra-low emission wood burners which emit as little smoke as a pellet fire. There are now eight of these burners on the market in Canterbury,” David Bedford says.

Environment Canterbury Commissioner David Bedford says that many more people are now aware that a smoky chimney means a fire is not hot enough, and that unburnt firewood is a waste of money and heat.

Environment Canterbury has subsidies available for people with financial or health challenges to switch to cleaner forms of heating. People can visit the website to find out what support is available and to learn how to burn better.

“We’re confident that the community’s heading in the right direction for meeting the national clean air targets as people continue to burn better.” In 2014 there were 101 high-pollution nights across the region; this year there were fewer than 50.

National Environmental Standards for Air Quality targets (NESAQ), which begin in September, mean Christchurch, Ashburton, Kaiapoi, Timaru and Waimate must have only three high-pollution nights. Rangiora, Geraldine and Washdyke must have only have one.

The uptake of new heating and burning technology is also playing an important part. “We know it’s a significant investment to install a new wood burner, or a pellet fire or heat pump, but people are seeing the benefits of cleaner air in our urban areas over winter.

“Critical to future air quality is the proposed Canterbury Air Regional Plan. The Air Plan will help to ensure that Canterbury’s air quality will meet the expectations of our communities.”

Contact details Kaikōura 73 Beach Road PO Box 59 P. 03 319 5781

Online: Email: Customer Services: 0800 EC INFO Free phone: 0800 324 636 or Christchurch: 03 353 9007

Contact the Commissioners: 0800 COMMISSIONERS (0800 266 647) 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: Riverflows: