Wa­ter races set to be closed in Malvern

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MATTHEW SAL­MONS

Five lengths of wa­ter race in the Malvern scheme are set to dry up for good af­ter their clo­sure was ap­proved by the Sel­wyn District Coun­cil (SDC) last week.

Wa­ter races of­ten har­boured some of Can­ter­bury’s en­dan­gered fish species. The five sec­tions were fed from the Kowai River, so could con­tain Can­ter­bury galax­ias, longfin eel, up­land bully or fresh­wa­ter mus­sels. No fish sal­vaging work had yet been con­firmed.

SDC as­set man­ager wa­ter ser­vices Mur­ray Eng­land said the five lengths to­talled around 7.4km and their clo­sure was ini­ti­ated by prop­erty own­ers.

Eng­land said coun­cil con­sulted with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing Fish and Game, the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (DoC), En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury, Te Tau­mutu Ru¯ nanga and Te Ru¯ nanga o Nga¯ i Tahu.

The clo­sure would af­fect eight prop­er­ties, all of which sup­ported the move Eng­land said.

Eng­land said fish sal­vage work was to be ar­ranged by prop­erty own­ers in the event of a ratepayer ini­ti­ated clo­sure.

Fish that were sal­vaged from wa­ter races were usu­ally moved to an­other area of wa­ter race.

‘‘The re­quire­ment for fish sal­vage is de­pen­dent on the eco­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the race. As an ex­am­ple, if a race has been dry for a sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod then fish sal­vage will not be re­quired,’’ Eng­land said.

The five lengths were not high value eco­log­i­cal sites, but DoC se­nior ranger Anita Spencer said it would still have some en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

‘‘Can­ter­bury in par­tic­u­lar has lost a large amount of its wet­lands, close to 95 per cent. A lot of the wa­ter races are old streams and creeks. Ba­si­cally, this is what our wa­ter­ways look like now,’’ she said.

Many wa­ter races had be­come im­por­tant mahinga kai sites and func­tion­ing ecosys­tems with a ‘‘high eco­log­i­cal value’’. Spencer said around 28 per cent of ex­ist­ing mud­fish habi­tats were wa­ter races.

She said ul­ti­mately DoC would like to see the higher value ar­eas of wa­ter races de­fined as minire­serves and main­tained with na­tive plant­ing.

‘‘They could be a real fea­ture for com­mu­ni­ties,’’ Spencer said.

With­out a def­i­ni­tion of which sites were guar­an­teed to re­main, some of the sal­vaged fish from the five Malvern sites could face re-sal­vaging in fu­ture, Spencer said.

MATTHEW SAL­MONS/STUFF

Five Malvern wa­ter races, like the one pic­tured here, have been ap­proved for clo­sure by the Sel­wyn District Coun­cil.

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