Tomorrow we embark on the next leg of our swimmable rivers campaign. We are going up to the Manawatū region to learn more about a mighty Manawatū river. This river has been listed as one of the most polluted in the country, but it’s also one that’s received a lot of public attention.
The Manawatū river cuts through the middle of the country, travelling from Ngāti Kahungunu country in the Ruahine ranges through to Rangitane country and out to the ocean at Foxton Beach.
Ever since colonisation, and the stripping of the native forests, the river has been heavily impacted by sediment running off the hills and into the water. It has also been forcibly contained through engineering works so farmers can develop the land. But this containment has also resulted in the loss of massive wetlands and encouraged the river to flood.
Today, intensive dairying, urban sewage and industrial waste have the biggest impact on the river’s water quality. Discharging of pollutions directly into the river has thankfully reduced in the last decade, but the dairy boom has seen nitrates continue to leach through the soil and into the water.
The Horizons Regional Council negotiated an ambitious plan, known as the “One Plan”, that was meant to see a reduction in pollution entering the river. However, the implementation of the One Plan has been controversial. National environment groups have taken the Council to court over concerns that the council was allowing conversions and intensification that would undermine the region’s goal of cleaning up its waterways.
Tomorrow, I am going to talk to Horizon’s Council about the One Plan. I also plan to visit a local farmer to talk about water, meet with bilingual tamariki at Awapuni Primary, and learn how to test the water in the Manawatū using a prototype sensor designed by Wai NZ.
We will be holding a public meeting at 7 p.m (Wednesday 29 March). This will take place at the All Saints Church Hall, Church Road, Palmerston North.