The quality of water in Waikawa River isn’t very high

On 13 December 2020 a small team from Salt Ecology, working on behalf of Horizons Regional Council, headed upstream on the river to undertake a water quality survey. They weren’t checking E. Coli, like the weekly monitors, but were instead looking at things like sediment and nitrates.

Do we have any community members with relevant expertise who could summarise these findings in plain language for us?

This isn’t the first time they’ve done such monitoring. Here are two reports they’ve provided. They are highly technical as they were written for a specialist audience rather than the general public, so unless you have relevant training you might just want to skip to the Results sections.

In 2019 and 2020 findings suggested there’s plenty of room for improvement in our river:

Overall the results indicate that the estuary is continuing to express strong symptoms of eutrophication with large parts of the upper estuary currently adversely impacted by elevated catchment inputs of nutrients and, to a lesser degree, sediments.

Eutrophication is when the level of nutrients in the water is too high. That causes a ton of problems, affecting fish and other organisms.

The report recommends further monitoring, and also actions towards restoration.

Waikawa Stream from the footbridge.
Waikawa Stream from the footbridge.

Read the reports for yourself:

River water monitoring research boat.
River water monitoring research boat.

3 thoughts on “The quality of water in Waikawa River isn’t very high”

  1. Some areas have a volunteer group set up to promote the restoration, care and maintenance of their river and its surrounds. Our Association does a great a job in keeping an eye on what is happening overall but is there room for a specific group to focus on aspects of the river environment?

    Usual residence: NZ

  2. Good comment Cecily. There was a 3-year project recently under the auspices of Landcare Research that was working on specific measures to improve water quality — not sure where that’s up to. However, there’s always room for anyone who wants to make a contribution. I know of at least one local kayaker, for example, who was upset a year or two back about weed making the stream impassable. At that time Horizons Regional Council didn’t seem to have any interest in that specific portion of the stream.

    Usual residence: Waikawa

  3. I remember when the river was clear and a great place for kids to swim. You could even see little fish in it and whitebaiting was popular. When the flood washed away the old footbridge, the council ended up dredging it to make it deeper and added a bend in the estuary to slow the river down. All the river stones were piled up on a bank for flood protection.

    The result was that the river’s bottom changed from being composed of river stones and sand to sticky mud and the water consequently became very cloudy with mud.

    Usual residence: NZ

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Waikawa Beach or Manakau

New Zealand