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Councils Work With Communities To Monitor Streams

Auckland City Council Release

Auckland’s urban streams are under constant threat from pollution and many are already severely degraded. But help is at hand - “Wai Care” a new programme that is starting in the Auckland region is about to give community groups the tools they need to monitor the water quality in their local streams as well as outlining the actions they can take to improve it.

The programme is a joint effort initiated by a number of local authorities and other agencies. A steering group has been made up of staff from the Auckland Regional Council, Auckland City Council, North Shore City Council, Manukau City Council, Waitakere City Council, Metrowater and EcoWater.

“Wai Care has been modeled on other successful programmes overseas such as Waterwatch in Australia,” says John McEwing, Chair, Wai Care Steering Group.

Wai Care will bring together community groups, schools, landowners and others to test the water quality in their local stream so that practical actions can be taken to achieve the aim of improving water quality in local waterways.

“It not just about water testing,” says John McEwing. “Wai Care is also about education and empowerment. Through learning more about how streams become polluted, Wai Care groups can educate their local communities, industry and business on how to ‘clean up their act’ and prevent water pollution.”

A testing kit and manual has been produced and this is currently being trialed by a number of community groups (Meola Creek Community Group; Friends of Whau; Kaipatiki Ecological Restoration Project; Keep Okura Green; Friends of Sherwood; Otara Lake Community Group and a school group from Auckland Girls Grammar). These groups are working with facilitators who are taking them through the variety of tests the kits contains eg. chemical tests such as pH, dissolved oxygen, water clarity, as well as looking at the bugs and critters living in the streams.

At the same time as the trial is being carried out a Wai Care website and database is being developed. This will allow groups to input the test results from their local stream and monitor how the water quality changes over time. They will also be able to see how their stream compares with other streams in the Auckland regions that other Wai Care groups are working on.

It is planned to extend Wai Care across the Auckland Region in July 2000. However, the number of groups able to be involved in the project will initially be limited due to resource and budgetary restraints.

Anyone interested in finding out more can contact the Auckland Regional Council or their local city council or visit the Wai Care website http://waicare.org.nz

Wai Care shows that by working together, we can make a difference.

ENDS

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