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Improving waterways

$1.4 million boost to Waimata, Uawa projects.

Two projects in the district are set to receive $1.4 million in funding from the Ministry for the Environment's Freshwater Improvement Fund to help clean up and protect waterways while also creating jobs.

Waimata Catchment Group Incorporated (WCG) will get $845,000 to help with the Waimata Catchment Restoration Project (WCRP).

Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti Centre of Excellence Trust will get $582,602 to help with the Uawanui Restoration Project (URP).

Over five years the WCRP project aims to restore water quality along 38 kilometres of the Waimata River.

The project will do this through 30km of riparian fencing, stock water reticulation, culverting/bridging stock crossings and planting over 150,000 riparian plants.

It is estimated it will create nine full-time equivalent jobs.

The Waimata Catchment Group has been doing a range of activities, including tree planting, fencing and weed control, around the Waimata River and its tributaries over the last 12 months.

“This funding recognises the efforts landowners and the community have been making to restore the health of the river,” WCG chair Matt Maclaurin said.

The funding will enable the restoration work to expand beyond the initial seven landowners working on the river to the wider catchment.

“It's been great to see the enthusiasm from landowners to participate in the restoration efforts,” project manager Laura Watson said.

“To date, the project has been largely focused on the upper catchment but with this new funding we will be able to do work across the whole area.”

'Swift and powerful' impact

While the funding is targeted at improving water quality — particularly the high levels of sediment and bacteria in the river — the catchment group has a wider vision that encompasses weed and pest control and the reintroduction of species such as pateke, kakariki and ngutukaka.

The Uawanui Restoration Project is an iwi and community-led initiative that aims to achieve long-term economic, environmental and social benefits for the people of Uawa.

The objective is to initiate and co-ordinate a series of integrated projects over the next three years — controlling weeds, planting native plants and fencing along waterways — and train local cadets to help improve water quality. It is estimated it will create six FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs.

These two projects, along with 17 others, have been awarded $36 million in Government funding.

Together with council and other contributions, the package will see more than $70 million invested in improving freshwater across the country.

“From the high country slopes in Canterbury to sensitive wetlands in the Nelson region, rivers in Northland, Taranaki, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Otago, this funding will help our freshwater systems right across the country,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

Te Mana o Te Wai, the guiding principle of the recently-released Essential Freshwater reforms, means protecting the life-supporting capacity of freshwater.

It gives priority to the health of freshwater, followed by the needs of people and commercial uses.

“The funding will support councils and landowners to implement the new freshwater regulations and give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai by supporting stock exclusion, fish passage remediation, the development and implementation of freshwater farm plans and sediment control activities like riparian planting,” Mr Parker said.

Across the 19 projects, up to 413 jobs are expected to be created over the next five years.

“The funding comes from the Freshwater Improvement fund, which is part of the Government's $1.245 billion Jobs for Nature package that aims to create significant environmental benefits and employ thousands in our regions to help accelerate the recovery from the impact of Covid-19.

“With over 100 other Jobs for Nature-funded projects already announced, and more than 800 jobs created so far, this programme is having a swift and powerful impact on our regions and the environment.

“The projects announced will build on the great work already happening across New Zealand.”

Funding deeds will be negotiated with the successful recipients following the announcement, with boots on the ground expected in the second quarter of 2021.

RESTORATION: Waimata Catchment Group Incorporated is set to receive $845,000 from the Freshwater Improvement Fund to help with the Waimata Catchment Restoration Project. Picture by Liam Clayton.