The Omanawa Stream in Tauranga has been announced as the Bay of Plenty's most improved river at the NZ River Awards held in Wellington.
The award acknowledges a significant reduction in E.coli bacteria levels which are a key indicator of swimmability in waterways.
“Regional Council has been working proactively with landowners to improve the region's water quality for a many years," says said Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder who received the award on behalf of the community.
"It's great to see some tangible results that show real progress is being made towards water quality we can all be proud of.”
The Omanawa Stream is a tributary of the Wairoa River, which flows into Tauranga Harbour.
The land surrounding the stream includes a mix of native bush, forestry, farming and horticulture. Fencing improvements, forest cover, and a steep gorge mean that farm animals are now excluded from 95 percent of the Omanawa Stream's margins.
Regional Council Tauranga Harbour Catchments Manager Sarah Omundsen says that her team has been helping landowners to take care of the stream by installing run-off controls like detainment bunds and slope planting, as well as stream bank fencing.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chairman Doug Leeder (left) receiving the Most Improved Bay of Plenty River Award from Lou Sanson, DOC Director-General at the NZ River Awards ceremony last night.
“The land surrounding the Omanawa Stream is hilly and erosion-prone. That means lots of sediment or soil can be washed off the land, into the stream, when it rains. Land run-off can carry excess nutrients and bacteria that can degrade water quality. Good run-off management is a key ingredient for clean, healthy waterways,” says Sarah.
Regional Council scientists regularly collect and analyse samples from more than 680 water monitoring sites throughout the region, as part of their work to detect environmental problems, inform solutions, and measure improvements.
During summer, Regional Council's water monitoring work includes weekly checks of bacteria or algae levels at more than 80 popular river, lake and coastal swimming spots. Results are published within 24 hours at www.boprc.govt.nz/swimmingwaterquality and regularly updated as part of a national dataset at www.lawa.org.nz.