Pahau River wins award

Canterbury’s Pahau River has been named the Most Improved River at the New Zealand River Awards 2017.

Surrounded by dairy farms, Pahau River showed E. coli in the water improved by an impressive 15.4 percent per annum over the past 10 years.

According to Dr Morgan Williams (Chair of Cawthron Foundation and NZ Rivers Trust) the shift to more efficient irrigation techniques, and better farm management practices in response to tighter nutrient rules imposed by regional councils, saw Pahau River take out the supreme award.

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"These changes, plus a commitment to riparian fencing and planting, have almost certainly contributed to the marked decline in E. coli. Science, goodwill, and hard work can help restore river health.

"What’s happened in this catchment highlights the importance of taking a systems approach: setting nutrient rules, adopting more efficient irrigation methods, and pursuing innovative farm management practices," said Dr Williams.

The Supreme Award recognises long-term improvement in a specific water quality indicator. E. coli was the indicator used by judges this year, and they determined the winner based on independent LAWA monitoring data.

"There’s an increasing change in attitude, particularly among farmers, that they have a responsibility to adopt practices to improve the health of our waterways. A combination of encouragement, publicity and coercion will keep this transformation going," said Dr Williams.

The New Zealand River Awards 2017 were run by Cawthron Foundation, with generous support from others wanting to improve the health of New Zealand rivers and lakes.

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