Pomahaka far from ‘lost’
A waterway improvement group is contesting claims made last week that the Pomahaka River is ‘‘lost’’ to future generations.
More than 15 southern waterways appeared on a list of rivers ‘‘lost or in noticeable decline’’ as public trout fisheries.
The list was compiled by NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) executive member Steve Gerard, but Pomahaka Water Care Group chairman Lloyd McCall dismissed the report as ‘‘unhelpful scaremongering’’.
‘‘It’s a bit of a beat-up, to be honest,’’ McCall said.
‘‘Feedback we’ve been receiving from fishermen locally is that fish stocks are increasing, and the Pomahaka’s as good as it’s ever been.
‘‘I think these guys (NZFFA) are seeing what they want to see, perhaps based on old data.’’
As part of the Pathway for the Pomahaka project, McCall’s group and others had been work- ing hard on a variety of water quality improvement initiatives for the river during the past two years and more, he said.
‘‘We’ve engaged about half of the local farmers in this catchment, all of whom have been reviewing and steadily making improvements to their agricultural practices as they relate to the environment and particularly waterways.
‘‘There’s more to do, for sure, but we’re confident we’re on the right track.’’
Central to the group’s activities had been regular water quality testing and benchmarking by project stakeholders.
McCall said testing had demonstrated improvements within a short timeframe in E. coli, nitrogen and ammonia levels, with further steps now being taken to reduce elevated phosphorus levels in the catchment’s waterways.
‘‘Our big focus now is on controlling sediment discharge into the water, as phosphorus clings to sediment.
If we can fix that, it’ll be another big leap forward for us.’’
McCall said ’’black and white’’ definitions such as ‘‘lost’’ were counterproductive.
‘‘Our group is about farmers taking ownership.
‘‘We’ve recognised the issues and are taking steps to address them.
‘‘That’s the sort of initiative that needs to be encouraged elsewhere, rather than simply scaremongering.’’
Local stakeholders talk about the effects of sedimentation in the Wairuna catchment earlier in the year.