A key resolution from the Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum last week was to present a detailed report to the community early next year.
At the meeting last Friday, in which over 40 leaders attended, representatives of sector groups with a connection to the Manawatū River presented updates on their activities and heard reports on the state of the river.
Chairman of the Forum, Richard Thompson, said he was pleased with the turn-out.
“Leaders from iwi, business, farming, environmental, and research organisations and local authorities attended. Clearly interest in the river and commitment to the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord is very strong.
“There is plenty of goodwill in the forum plus a willingness to listen to each other, understand the issues and progress solutions.”
At the Forum’s next meeting in March 2014 each group will account for progress on their actions within the Action Plan agreed by the Forum in 2011. This will be collated into a detailed report that will be publicly distributed.
Mr Thompson said that the leaders recognised the high level of public interest in the Manawatu River and the need for them to be accountable for progress under the Accord.
Friday’s meeting also received an update on the monitoring of river health carried out by Horizons Regional Council.
Horizons’ Freshwater and Science Manager, Dr Jon Roygard reported that the river has shown some improvements but is still below standard at some times and locations. He expects the local authority wastewater system improvements underway at the moment at Woodville, Dannevirke, Pahiatua, Shannon, Kimbolton and Feilding will make a significant difference to water quality in those catchments.
The local authority wastewater work is part funded by a grant from the Government’s Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund. In total the Forum received $5.2m of Crown funding towards improving the river.
Horizons’ Chief Executive, Michael McCartney recognised the significance of central government funding to accelerate the improvement of the river.
“Funding like this is available to those who are prepared to make their own investment, not only financially but also via a concerted commitment from the local community to make a change,” he said,
“Good progress has been made over the past year and most projects that have been undertaken are meeting or exceeding their targets.”
Other projects part-funded include stream fencing, native fish habitat restoration, environmental farm plans and community involvement initiatives.