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Community action transforms Waikakahi Stream

Story courtesy of Environment Canterbury

More than 20 years’ work by local community members has transformed the Waikakahi Stream near Glenavy from a muddy bog into a pristine waterway.

Kate White – chair of the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee - describes the project as a perfect example of what can be achieved when a community works collaboratively.

It started in the1990s when local farmer Chris Paul decided to take action to improve the stream. He called a public meeting and contacted Environment Canterbury for help.

Everyone got involved to begin cleaning up the stream as well as monitoring water quality samples and doing fish and bird counts.

Kate has noticed a huge change in the stream which reflects years of hard work by the group. She credits the combination of planting alongside the stream, fencing, stock exclusion and silt traps which have transformed the stream into a crystal clear waterway.

“In the beginning there was no fencing, areas of bog, no defined stream edge and stock were grazing in the stream. That’s all changed. We’ve seen the stream come into its own with the growth of streamside planting and trout coming back to the stream.”

Cawthron Institute Freshwater Ecologist Robin Holmes, who began a study of the stream in 2012, says his results highlight the importance of fencing and streamside planting.

“We found that 300 metres downstream from the fencing there was a reduction in the amount of deposited sediment which is vital for improving the stream habitat. The most important impact was fencing the stream and we found that the fencing needs to be three to five metres back from stream edge.”

Robin also found good populations of trout, eels and bullies in the stream which he attributes to the long-term rehabilitation work He hopes to secure government funding to carry out further studies on the stream which would also be supported by the zone committee.

More than 20 years’ work by local community members has transformed the Waikakahi Stream near Glenavy from a muddy bog into a pristine waterway.

Kate White – chair of the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee - describes the project as a perfect example of what can be achieved when a community works collaboratively.

It started in the1990s when local farmer Chris Paul decided to take action to improve the stream. He called a public meeting and contacted Environment Canterbury for help.

Everyone got involved to begin cleaning up the stream as well as monitoring water quality samples and doing fish and bird counts.

Kate has noticed a huge change in the stream which reflects years of hard work by the group. She credits the combination of planting alongside the stream, fencing, stock exclusion and silt traps which have transformed the stream into a crystal clear waterway.

“In the beginning there was no fencing, areas of bog, no defined stream edge and stock were grazing in the stream. That’s all changed. We’ve seen the stream come into its own with the growth of streamside planting and trout coming back to the stream.”

Cawthron Institute Freshwater Ecologist Robin Holmes, who began a study of the stream in 2012, says his results highlight the importance of fencing and streamside planting.

“We found that 300 metres downstream from the fencing there was a reduction in the amount of deposited sediment which is vital for improving the stream habitat. The most important impact was fencing the stream and we found that the fencing needs to be three to five metres back from stream edge.”

Robin also found good populations of trout, eels and bullies in the stream which he attributes to the long-term rehabilitation work He hopes to secure government funding to carry out further studies on the stream which would also be supported by the zone committee.

Banner image: Robin Holmes – Freshwater Ecologist Cawthron Institute and Kate White – Chair of Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee

Side image: Working bee at Waikakahi Stream early 1990s