Water care group to celebrate meeting initial aims

Pomahaka Water Care Group chairman Lloyd McCall addresses volunteers at a riparian management day...
Pomahaka Water Care Group chairman Lloyd McCall addresses volunteers at a riparian management day at Edievale in April. The group will meet in Tapanui on June 20 for a celebration marking the first three years of the Pathway for the Pomahaka project. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A South Otago water care group will not be resting on its laurels, despite celebrating a ``successful'' first three years of activity later this month.

The Pomahaka Water Care Group (PWG), comprising farmers contributing to the Pathway for the Pomahaka project, will meet other regional and project stakeholders in Tapanui on June 20, to ``celebrate achievements and reflect on things learnt''.

Pathway co-ordinator has been NZ Landcare Trust's Craig Simpson, who said although the project had met its initial aims, there was still plenty of work ahead in improving water quality in the catchment, and ``consolidating gains''.

``We set out to bring together farmer and other stakeholders, share information and technology, and support the water care group in its efforts to turn around a long-standing decline in water quality for the Pomahaka. We're at the stage now where we've achieved those initial aims, and can launch the next three-year phase of capitalising on our position.''

Mr Simpson said the experience of working with the more than 160 farmer members of the group had been positive.

``You've got the situation now where the farmers are leading the way. We're very excited to reach this pivotal point.''

His sentiments were echoed by PWG chairman Lloyd McCall.

``We're pretty excited to have come this far in a relatively short time, but there's still a lot to do.

``You could say we've picked the low-hanging fruit, and now we need to plant more trees.''

Key project elements during the next phase would focus on phosphorus reduction in the waterway, he said.

``We've made great strides in nitrogen, ammonia and E.coli reduction, but the problem of sediment and related phosphorus levels is still there. In the short-term we'll be investigating sediment traps and riparian plantings as ways of improving that situation but, in the longer term, I believe there'll need to be a move towards more sustainable farming practices across the catchment.''

He said the Ministry for Primary Industries would contribute $350,000 from its Sustainable Farming Fund to an estimated three-year project cost, from July 1, of $1 million.

Members of the public were invited to attend the celebration at West Otago Town & Country Club, from 5pm on June 20.



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