Care re­quired around wa­ter­ways

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - BALA TIKKISETTY

Sum­mer – with its lower flows and gen­er­ally bet­ter weather – is when farm­ers of­ten carry out works in and around wa­ter­ways.

These can in­clude stream straight­en­ing and ex­ca­vat­ing the beds of rivers and lakes to, for ex­am­ple, in­stall bridges or cul­verts, to re­move sed­i­ment build-ups or to bet­ter man­age an un­sta­ble stream.

Such works can pose risks to the en­vi­ron­ment and be sub­ject to en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions. So it’s im­por­tant farm­ers and con­trac­tors pro­tect the health of wa­ter­ways by en­sur­ing that any works don’t im­pact on bank sta­bil­ity, wa­ter qual­ity and aquatic life.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil is or­gan­is­ing a field day fo­cussing on river man­age­ment and in­stream works on March 16 at 1023 Man­gao­taki Road, Pio­pio. It will start at 10am and will be fol­lowed by lunch.

It will be a very worth­while op­por­tu­nity to talk to the ex­perts about the best ways to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment while car­ry­ing out farm projects, which can in­volve a wide range of is­sues.

For ex­am­ple, sed­i­ment build up or in­sta­bil­ity may be caused by stock tram­pling wa­ter­way banks and by cul­ti­va­tion of pad­docks too close to wa­ter­ways with­out an ad­e­quate buf­fer zone or enough sed­i­ment con­trol mea­sures.

The ef­fects of such prob­lems on aquatic life and wa­ter qual­ity can be ex­ac­er­bated through in­ap­pro­pri­ate in-stream ex­ca­va­tions or in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­moval of bank veg­e­ta­tion.

Be­sides hurt­ing wa­ter qual­ity and aquatic habi­tats through in­creased sed­i­men­ta­tion, desta­bil­i­sa­tion of banks and beds can cause changes to the course of rivers and streams, re­sult­ing in loss of land and prop­erty and in­fra­struc­ture dam­age. Do­ing things right can avoid re­cur­ring prob­lems.

Mean­while, struc­tures such as bridges, cul­verts and wa­ter in­takes are essen­tial fea­tures of most farms. They should be well planned and con­structed to en­sure they are not at risk from the stream and also to pro­tect in­stream val­ues.

Such struc­tures can ob­struct or di­vert flows pre­vent fish pas­sage, and block mi­gra­tion and ac­cess to spawn­ing grounds, in­clud­ing to ar­eas that have been used as tra­di­tional or recre­ational fish­eries.

The Re­source Man­age­ment Act clearly pro­hibits any dis­tur­bances to river, stream and lake beds un­less the dis­tur­bance is specif­i­cally al­lowed by a re­source con­sent is­sued by a re­gional coun­cil.

That’s why the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil’s poli­cies cover the use, erec­tion, re­con­struc­tion, place­ment, al­ter­ation, ex­ten­sion, re­moval or de­mo­li­tion of struc­tures in, on, un­der or over the beds of rivers, streams and lakes.

Check­ing the rules and get­ting ad­vice when plan­ning any ac­tiv­ity in or near a stream is essen­tial.


Bala Tikkisetty

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