Care required around waterways
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.