Funding boost for Rere project

SWIMMABLE RIVERS: The Government announced grants totalling $44 million yesterday for 33 projects around the country to clean up freshwater sites.
A Gisborne project to clean up the Wharekopae River, which feeds the famous Rere Rockslide and Rere Falls, receives $847,450 over five years to expand the project to the entire catchment. File picture

A PROJECT to improve water quality in a river that feeds the famous Rere Rockslide and Falls has received a major funding boost.

Gisborne District Council has received $847,450 over five years towards its Wharekopae River restoration project from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

Environment Minister Nick Smith yesterday announced grants of $44 million for 33 projects nationwide, which, with council and other contributions, would see $142 million invested in more than 100 lakes and rivers across New Zealand.

“The priority for this $44m investment has been projects that will contribute towards the Government’s goals of improving the swimmability and ecological health of waterways,” Dr Smith said.

The council’s acting environmental services and protection director Lois Easton said the new funding would enable them to expand the successful Rere Water Quality Project to include the whole Wharekopae River catchment.

The Rere project has been under way for nearly two years, with the Rere farming community working together with the council, Ministry for the Environment and NZ Beef and Lamb to improve water quality in the river, which regularly falls below safe swimming health standards.

Farm environment plans complete

All 21 sheep and beef farms in the upper Wharekopae sub-catchment have completed farm environment plans and are taking measures to improve water quality.

“We have had a lot of interest from farmers in the wider catchment in participating, so we are really pleased we are going to be able to expand the project with this funding,” she said.

Key objectives for the funding were to improve swimming water quality along the length of the river, and to improve its aquatic ecosystem health and habitat values for river birds and fish.

The funding would provide for subsidies of fencing, water reticulation, riparian planting and other measures to improve water quality, including community water quality monitoring and a locally-based part-time community co-ordinator.

“It is a great recognition of the partnership that has developed between the council, the community and Beef and Lamb, and follows on from the Rere project being a finalist in the Green Ribbon Awards,” Ms Easton said.

East Coast MP Anne Tolley said the new grant was “great news” for the community.

“We are committed to improving freshwater quality so Kiwis can enjoy our great outdoors,” Mrs Tolley said.

The council applied for funding for projects in the Waimata and Motu catchments, but these were not funded.

Seeking ways to progress projects

Ms Easton said they would continue to look for ways to progress projects in those catchments.

Four water quality projects in Hawke’s Bay received $3.5m between them.

Te Waiu o Tutira project to clean up Lake Tutira, which developed toxic algae blooms that killed tuna (eels), received $1.6m over the next four years.

The Bay of Plenty was the country’s largest recipient, largely made up of $6.5m for Lake Tarawera sewerage reticulation and treatment, where the lake risks flipping from a high-clarity to an algae-dominated state.

Closer to Gisborne, the Rangitaiki River wetland restoration project run by Bay of Plenty Regional Council received $1.5m over the next five years.

The country’s biggest grant went to Waimea Water, Tasman, with $7m to Tasman District Council for a run-of-river dam in the Lee Valley.

The grants are the first round of funding from the Government’s $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund announced last year. The funding went to 23 North Island projects ($27.8m), eight South Island projects ($15.6m) and two nationwide ($750,000).

A PROJECT to improve water quality in a river that feeds the famous Rere Rockslide and Falls has received a major funding boost.

Gisborne District Council has received $847,450 over five years towards its Wharekopae River restoration project from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

Environment Minister Nick Smith yesterday announced grants of $44 million for 33 projects nationwide, which, with council and other contributions, would see $142 million invested in more than 100 lakes and rivers across New Zealand.

“The priority for this $44m investment has been projects that will contribute towards the Government’s goals of improving the swimmability and ecological health of waterways,” Dr Smith said.

The council’s acting environmental services and protection director Lois Easton said the new funding would enable them to expand the successful Rere Water Quality Project to include the whole Wharekopae River catchment.

The Rere project has been under way for nearly two years, with the Rere farming community working together with the council, Ministry for the Environment and NZ Beef and Lamb to improve water quality in the river, which regularly falls below safe swimming health standards.

Farm environment plans complete

All 21 sheep and beef farms in the upper Wharekopae sub-catchment have completed farm environment plans and are taking measures to improve water quality.

“We have had a lot of interest from farmers in the wider catchment in participating, so we are really pleased we are going to be able to expand the project with this funding,” she said.

Key objectives for the funding were to improve swimming water quality along the length of the river, and to improve its aquatic ecosystem health and habitat values for river birds and fish.

The funding would provide for subsidies of fencing, water reticulation, riparian planting and other measures to improve water quality, including community water quality monitoring and a locally-based part-time community co-ordinator.

“It is a great recognition of the partnership that has developed between the council, the community and Beef and Lamb, and follows on from the Rere project being a finalist in the Green Ribbon Awards,” Ms Easton said.

East Coast MP Anne Tolley said the new grant was “great news” for the community.

“We are committed to improving freshwater quality so Kiwis can enjoy our great outdoors,” Mrs Tolley said.

The council applied for funding for projects in the Waimata and Motu catchments, but these were not funded.

Seeking ways to progress projects

Ms Easton said they would continue to look for ways to progress projects in those catchments.

Four water quality projects in Hawke’s Bay received $3.5m between them.

Te Waiu o Tutira project to clean up Lake Tutira, which developed toxic algae blooms that killed tuna (eels), received $1.6m over the next four years.

The Bay of Plenty was the country’s largest recipient, largely made up of $6.5m for Lake Tarawera sewerage reticulation and treatment, where the lake risks flipping from a high-clarity to an algae-dominated state.

Closer to Gisborne, the Rangitaiki River wetland restoration project run by Bay of Plenty Regional Council received $1.5m over the next five years.

The country’s biggest grant went to Waimea Water, Tasman, with $7m to Tasman District Council for a run-of-river dam in the Lee Valley.

The grants are the first round of funding from the Government’s $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund announced last year. The funding went to 23 North Island projects ($27.8m), eight South Island projects ($15.6m) and two nationwide ($750,000).

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