Te Puke Times
Wetland’s effect on health of estuary monitored
Time will tell whether or not a newly created wetland will have the desired effect on the health of Waihı Estuary.
Monitoring of the man-made wetland, near the intersection of State Highway 2 and Maniatutu Rd, is now under way in a joint project between the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, kiwifruit orchard management company Baygold and Niwa.
In recent decades the estuary water quality has degraded as increasing amounts of nutrients, sediment and faecal matter have been washed into the estuary from surrounding land and contributing waterways.
Regional council scientists estimate the current quantity of nutrients and bacteria entering the estuary will need to reduce by 30 to 66 per cent to stop the decline in estuary health.
Regional council land management officer Claire Mccorkindale says land drainage, development and land-use intensification since the early 1900s have all contributed to its current state.
She says drastic action to improve the land management practices is required.
“These man-made wetlands will be monitored by Niwa for the next two years to determine if the contaminant reductions that they’ve predicted as part of their constructed wetland guidelines will be achieved in the field,” Claire says.
Baygold design and environmental co-ordinator Olivia Manusauloa says the wetland treatment will help everyone understand what is in the water and what needs to be done to improve the water quality.
“Water quality is important to us because we care about the environment and how we interact with that environment.
“It is a key priority for us within that system,” she says.
The wetland is one of six that Niwa is working on with regional councils around the country, to monitor as part of its Mpi-funded research.
Niwa principal scientist Chris Tanner says the Bay of Plenty constructed wetlands, when added to the other five across the country Niwa is monitoring, will fill critical gaps in their understanding of wetland effectiveness for managing farm contaminant losses.