Nutrient Management in Canterbury

By David Caygill - Councillor at Environment Canterbury and former Labour Cabinet Minister

Recently I spoke to a Federated Farmers seminar in Ashburton on Environment Canterbury’s approach to the management of nutrient losses (or leaching) in Canterbury. I used a PowerPoint presentation which I’m happy to make available. But I find that PowerPoint is often hard to interpret away from the actual presentation. So here is a full-text explanation of how Environment Canterbury is seeking to reduce the loss of nutrient from farms in Canterbury.

Our accepted starting point is that in many parts of Canterbury water quality is unacceptable. In much of the Selwyn and Ashburton districts, for example, nitrate in groundwater exceeds the national drinking water standards. While alpine water quality (in our major braided rivers) is excellent, in many lowland streams nutrient levels exceed the bottom lines required to be achieved by the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM). In Christchurch, untreated sewage still escapes regularly into the Heathcote River/Ōpāwaho and the Avon River/Ōtākaro. As elsewhere in New Zealand, stormwater run-off exacerbates unacceptable urban water quality. There is much that we need to do.