Pom­a­haka far from ‘lost’

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD DAVISON

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.’’

SUP­PLIED

Lo­cal stake­hold­ers talk about the ef­fects of sed­i­men­ta­tion in the Wairuna catch­ment ear­lier in the year.

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