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Tauranga Harbour health stable

Tauranga Harbour health stable

1 October 2015

The environmental health of Te Awanui (Tauranga Harbour) and its catchment is stable and showing signs of improvement according to a report presented to Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Regional Direction and Delivery Committee yesterday.

However the report noted that the harbour is still vulnerable to the effects of land use and run-off, which require ongoing efforts by locals, landowners and council staff if long term harbour health is to be maintained and improved.

Regional Direction and Delivery Committee Chair, Councillor Paula Thompson said that some interesting trends were starting to emerge from 10 years of water and other environmental monitoring data collection.

“Council staff have been working hard over the last decade to support landowners and businesses in reducing erosion, sedimentation, nutrient and pollution run-off into the harbour. Our efforts seem to be turning the tide on harbour and stream health but there’s more work to do,” Councillor Thompson said.

The report also outlined work that’s been completed by Regional Council staff over the last 12 months to care for land, water and wildlife in the Tauranga Harbour catchment.

It highlighted catchment-wide improvements in phosphorous levels; the general good health of aquatic wildlife populations; and noted that sediment contamination levels were within safe limits. Sea grass beds in the southern harbour are showing signs of recovery, but land run-off has caused some shellfish and sea grass decline, especially in upper estuaries of the northern harbour.

On average, all monitored swimming areas met bathing suitability standards over the 2014/15 summer season.

“There are some hotspots such as at the Kaiate Stream and McLaren Falls, where we’ve seen regular spikes in bacteria readings, and the Omanawa River which has suffered increased nitrogen and phosphorous inputs since 2004. Those problems are usually caused by land-use change, weather conditions, waterfowl populations or accidental sewage overflows. Staff will be taking an even closer look at hotspots this year to identify further options for improvement,” Councillor Thompson said.

The report highlighted that from July 2014 to June 2015, Regional Council staff worked with Tauranga City Council to audit 180 business and industrial sites to prevent storm water pollution, and collect 3,870kg of rubbish from foreshore areas with the help of more than 1500 local school children. Throughout the year landowners had been supported to fence and plant 62 kilometres of stream margins and to manage 900 hectares of erosion-prone land more sustainably.

The report also noted that marine pest surveillance had been completed throughout the 2014/15 year. This involved bi-annual underwater checks on 450 moorings, 800 boat hulls, 10 kilometres of marina pontoons and 1.5 kilometres of rock walls in the Tauranga Harbour.

Further information about Regional Council’s work to care for Tauranga Harbour and its catchment is available at www.boprc.govt.nz/taurangaharbour

ENDS

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