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National recognition for community-based water management

National recognition for community-based water management strategy

All local authorities in Canterbury have been jointly recognised at the inaugural LGNZ (Local Government New Zealand) Excellence Awards, which honour council projects, programmes and people making an impact in local communities.

The authorities have been highly commended for the Canterbury Water Management Strategy’s
ground breaking community-led approach to natural resource management in the region.

The strategy was developed by the Canterbury Mayoral Forum and introduced in 2009 in response to significant growth in the agricultural sector that had created unprecedented demand for water. Its objective was to put management of water resources into the hands of local communities.

Environment Canterbury Chair, Dame Margaret Bazley, who represented the region’s local authorities at the awards presentation in Nelson on Monday night, says the strategy is already being credited for transforming the region’s approach to water management from adversarial to more community controlled and owned.

At its core are 10 zone water management committees, which are responsible for many decisions affecting water management. Each committee has up to 15 members drawn from Environment Canterbury, territorial authorities with an interest in the zone, Ngāi Tahu/rūnanga and other members of the local community.

“The outstanding work these committees do in partnership with their local communities has meant the strategy is already effecting the change necessary to ensure management of the water resource reflects the needs of everybody with an interest in its wellbeing,” Dame Margaret says.

“The range of initiatives that have already emerged from this new approach are possibly more advanced than might have been anticipated five years ago. For example, the Immediate Steps Biodiversity Programme has already allocated about $3.5 million to 130 different projects.

“Nearly 250,000 plants have been planted as part of the restoration of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere), an area of great cultural importance to Ngāi Tahu.”

Dame Margaret says the strategy is also playing an important role in advancing water infrastructure in the region.

“Before the strategy was in place, localised irrigation schemes were being developed without much consideration of how they might overlap with each other. The strategy ensures the schemes are all talking to each other and allows developers to access expertise within our local authorities to assist with their funding applications and other important work.”

Dame Margaret says LGNZ’s recognition of the strategy’s successes to date reflects the significant commitment of councils and communities throughout Canterbury to working together to ensure sustainable and equitable water management.

ends

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