Hands off Environment Canterbury

Hands off Ecan – a response to the Environment Canterbury review report

This is a democratically elected body and Government interference sets an anti democratic precedent. The Mayoral Forum had no mandate to seek this review. Ecan is functioning in an environment where protecting the environment and the demands of farmers, irrigators and hydro-electricity promoters are often incompatible.

We are reaching sustainability limits and now require holistic management and not a return to the “dark old days” of a water board. The Creech Report in focusing solely on Ecan’s perceived failings re the irrigation /hydroelectricity sector, does not factor in the wider public interest. Water belongs to us all and we should have a say in how it is used through our democratically elected representatives.

Environment Canterbury is under pressure from those who are seeking financial gain from our water resources at the expense of protection of our environment and the public good. We have deteriorating water quality in our lowland streams and increasingly rural communities have contaminated water supplies.

The public of Canterbury are concerned at the loss of our rivers because of the relentless commercial exploitation of our water resources, This concern has been expressed by voting in Save Our Water Councillors. Solely rural interests once dominated Ecan and today this is no longer the case. The National Government brought in the RMA and it is ironic that it now wants to impose centralized government authority as a result of the actions of commercial water use lobbyists.

These dog warning notices published: 9/04/2009 10:45 a.m give some indication of the problems we are now facing.

Flows in many Canterbury hill-fed rivers are still low and are prone to developing toxic algae, reports Environment Canterbury.

“We advise a general warning to river users throughout the region that the toxic alga Phormidium is likely to be present in some river areas,” said ECan water quality scientist Shirley Hayward. “Dog owners should be particularly wary, and keep their dogs away from any areas of rivers where dark brown/black algal mats are present. People should not swim in areas where there are large amounts of dark brown/black algae.”

Warnings remain in place for the following rivers where Phormidium is known to be present:
Waimakairiri District: Ashley River/Rakahuri – There is extensive growth of Phormidium in the lower areas of the Ashley River below the Ashley Gorge. There are small amounts of Phormidium floating downstream at the Ashley Gorge. River users should assume all of the Ashley River is dangerous to dogs and keep dogs out of the riverbed.

Hurunui District: Waiau River at Waiau Township Bridge – Phormidium is present in a small tributary on the south bank of the river, upstream of the bridge.
Hurunui River – Phormidium has been observed in small to moderate amounts along the length of the Hurunui River from the SH72 bridge to the SH1 bridge and below. It may also be present in some areas further upstream of SH72.

Selwyn District: Selwyn River – Small to moderate amounts of Phormidium are present from Whitecliffs area downstream to where the river becomes dry. Large amounts of Phormidium are present in areas around Coes Ford and Chamberlains Ford. River users should assume all of the Selwyn River is dangerous to dogs and keep dogs out of the riverbed.

Timaru District: Opihi River – Large amounts of Phormidium have been observed from Hanging Rock downstream to the SH 1 bridge. It will be present further downstream to the lagoon. Phormidium is also likely to be in some areas above Hanging Rock.”

Leave Envoronment Canterbury, our democratically elected body, to get on with doing its job. Lobbyists want the government to disband an authority that they perceive is not giving them what they want fast enough. Water is our treasure and belongs to us all.

We urge the Government to uphold the democratic process in Canterbury and support rather than dismantle Environment Canterbury.