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Can we rehabilitate Canterbury’s problem waterways?

Freshwater fix: Can we rehabilitate Canterbury’s problem waterways?

Identifying problems with Canterbury’s waterways isn’t difficult, but solving those problems is another matter. An upcoming UC Connect free public lecture will focus on the problems facing Canterbury’s fresh waterways.

In the Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment, or CAREX for short, a team of freshwater ecologists has been working to test solutions for important in-stream problems in lowland Canterbury waterways associated with intensive agriculture. The group has worked closely with farmers and other stakeholders to trial solutions in nine kilometres of waterways.

In this public seminar, one of the group’s leaders, University of Canterbury Professor Angus McIntosh outlines CAREX findings so far. These highlight the need for channels to be protected from their source (‘start at the top’) and for measures to prevent contaminants bypassing the protection system (or ‘prevent leaky plumbing’).

Work tackling three important stressors, fine sediment deposition, excessive weed growth and high nutrients, is now focusing on promising solutions including bank re-shaping, sediment traps, targeted shading and bioreactors for nutrient removal.

Finding solutions to problems in Canterbury’s waterways isn’t an isolated challenge. Freshwater health is failing across New Zealand and around the world, and finding jointly developed practical solutions will be important for restoring and future-proofing ecosystems.

Professor McIntosh is the Mackenzie Foundation Chair of Freshwater Ecology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury. He is also a Principal Investigator in the Centre for Integrative Ecology at UC, a member of the Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management and involved in the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

UC Connect public lecture: Freshwater fix: Can we rehabilitate Canterbury’s problem waterways? Professor Angus McIntosh, University of Canterbury, Wednesday 29 June, 7pm. Register to attend at:


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