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Water quality project relies on collaboration, science

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

How Environment Southland manages the cumulative effects of intensive agricultural land-use on the region's water quality is a project that will be built on science and collaboration, councillors heard today.

The Council Environmental Management Committee today discussed the Water and Land 2020 programme that has the objective of improving water quality across the region that in some cases are not meeting the expectations of the community.

Senior Resource Planner Fiona Young said the work would be undertaken on an activity and catchment basis and it was critical to the project that relationships were formed with landowners at an early stage.

The programme will look to farmers for a land management perspective, to all stakeholders to develop answers in order to meet water quality objectives and to science help form an understanding of the physical process that is occurring, she said.

The project has two different branches, Focus Activities that entail short-to-medium term "quick-fixes" to improve water quality through established methods including riparian and nutrient management and a broader Regional Response tailored to meet the requirements of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

"The regional response will also identify specific requirements for each catchment, depending on the uses, values and the reasons for water quality deterioration," she said.

A meeting with a steering group representative of range of different interests would be held this week to discuss the objectives sought and the process to achieve them, Mrs Young said.

Although the group would provide valuable feedback on any options proposed it would ultimately be up to the Council to make any decisions, she said.

Mrs Young said the project would most be gradually introduced in stages over a period of several years. Council Chairman Ali Timms also said that with changes possible to the Resource Management Act could well change the how the project looked in the future.

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