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City Council In Top Four For Prize

The Christchurch City Council is one of four finalists in the 2001 Thiess Services International River prize – one of the world’s most prestigious environment awards.

The $A100,000 River prize is presented in Brisbane as part of the city’s annual River festival.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Jim Soorley, said the City Council’s plan for its rivers had a 50-year outlook and dedicated budget with well-documented ecological outcomes.

“It’s community management model has become the benchmark for waterway management throughout New Zealand,” he said.

“The essence of the City Council’s programme is transitioning the management of waterways from primary drainage facilities to multi-value, functional waterways, and includes ecological, social and economic values.”

Mr. Soorley said key outcomes included river margin restoration and protection, reinstating natural channels, wildlife recolonisation, formal agreements and conservation covenants and community education and increased awareness.

The City Council, in its submission for consideration for the prize, wrote that Christchurch’s fundamental achievement had been to bring about a complete about-face in the management of its rivers and their catchments from 1990 to 2000.

“The management philosophy has been transformed from a single-focused stormwater drainage approach to a holistic values-based approach.

“Innovation in planning, design, implementation and maintenance has resulted in success being demonstrated on the ground and a growing awareness, understanding and appreciation of the city’s waterways and wetlands by the community at large,” the Council said.

Over the last 10 years $40 million has been invested in the programme and another $45 million has been budgeted in the Council’s capital expenditure programme over the next 10 years.

The prize will be presented on 29 August as part of the River symposium in Brisbane.

Previous winners include the Grand River (Canada) and England’s Mersey River.

Other finalists competing with Christchurch City Council this year are: the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Canada; the Alexander River Restoration Administration, Israel; and the Blackwood Basin Group, Western Australia.

River symposium manager Dr Selina Ward said the River prize and River symposium helped focus worldwide scientific interest on the plight of the world’s rivers.

This year’s theme is “River Business – Turning Community vision into Reality.”

Ends

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