Leaders to report on river clean-up

7 April 2014

Nearly three years on from the launch of a comprehensive plan to clean-up the Manawatu River, the Manawatu River Leaders’ Forum is reporting on its progress.

A detailed report due for release April 11 looks at all 131 actions originally set out by the group of council, community, farming, industry and hapū/iwi leaders and provides a snapshot of the science.

Independent Chair of the River Leaders’ Forum Richard Thompson says “improving the state of the Manawatū River is very much a long-term project, but there are some promising findings at this very early stage”.

These findings include overall improving trends in nutrient levels and levels of bacteria as set out in an independent science report commissioned by Horizons Regional Council.

Horizons freshwater and science manager Dr Jon Roygard says care must be taken in attributing trends to changes in management practices over such a short timeframe but the results are encouraging.

“There is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to water quality but I am cautiously optimistic that things are looking up across the Catchment,” he says.

Other successes include: the completion of three community projects; improvements to wastewater treatment plants in Tararua, Manawatu and Horowhenua; the discovery and ongoing restoration of the North Island’s largest known whitebait spawning habitat; and the significant contribution being made by landowners to a stream fencing project.

The Manawatu Catchment is now one of the most heavily monitored and studied catchments in New Zealand and Mr Thompson says this stands the Forum and community in good stead to make a change.

“We have an in-depth understanding of the challenges our River faces, allowing funding and effort to be directed to where it’s needed most.

“Central Government’s Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund has also significantly contributed to our efforts and we hope to keep this momentum going.

“That said we also know this project is not for Forum members alone. The River flows through all of us and only through collective action will we make a lasting difference,” he says.

The report will be launched at a meeting of the Manawatu River Leaders’ Forum being held at Te Manawa in Palmerston North, Friday 11 April. Members of the public are invited to join the Leaders from 12pm for a short presentation, a copy of the report and the opportunity to talk to those involved in the actions underway.

More information about the River can be found online at www.manawaturiver.co.nz The progress report and full science report will be available via this website from Friday 11 April.

People are also encouraged to participate in discussion via Facebook www.facebook.com/manawaturiver or the Twitter feed www.twitter.com/manawaturiver

ENDS

Media opportunity – Media are invited to attend the launch of the River Accord Progress Report from 12pm Friday 11 April at Te Manawa in Palmerston North. Interviews with Accord signatories can also be arranged upon request.