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Christchurch Water Advocates to Celebrate World Rivers Day

Christchurch Water Advocates Invited to Celebrate World Rivers Day on the Avon River/Ōtākaro

Community-led movement, Drinkable Rivers, is bringing together Christchurch’s water champions to celebrate World Rivers Day on Sunday 22 September on the banks of the Avon River/Ōtakaro by Margaret Mahy Playground.

Drinkable Rivers Project Manager, Bex De Prospo, says “We know that many people in our community are already working hard on their local rivers and we want to acknowledge their commitment; we have planned this event with them in mind. We see World Rivers Day as a community-focused celebration where passionate people who are already doing great work on our waterways can come together to share some kai, some knowledge, and some time together enjoying the river.”

The aim of Drinkable Rivers is to act as a catalyst for advocates throughout New Zealand to care for their stretch of water, and to provide resources, education, and support to help them continue to do great work for our waterways. Drinkable Rivers founder, Michael Mayell, declared his ‘moonshot’ vision of Drinkable Rivers in July of this year when the group grounded their first real-time data sensor, Oracle 1, at the head of the Avon near Corfe Reserve. Mayell, local entrepreneur and passionate environmental activist, says “It’s time for us to nurture one of our city’s greatest natural assets and restore the Avon River/Ōtākaro to become the pride of Christchurch, rich in biodiversity and full of vitality once again.”

The Drinkable Rivers Group intends to give New Zealand rivers a voice by installing additional sensors and using the data to help restore New Zealand’s waterways to their natural and balanced ecological state. This real-time data from Oracle 1 and future sensors will be available at drinkablerivers.nz in easy-to-interpret form, and will be available for open-source use by anyone.

The Group understands that big change starts small and in their own backyard. As such, the focus in their first year is on a 110m stretch at the head of the Avon River/Ōtākaro. They will be utilising real-time and manual water testing, education, community engagement, and riparian planting to begin to regenerate it. The Group plans to restore this one small section and then apply those lessons as they move the full 14km down the river. “In 7 years, people will be saying ‘you have to go to Christchurch to see what they’ve done with their river.’ We will be fishing and swimming in the most beautiful urban river on Earth!” says Mayell.

The World Rivers Day Celebration kicks off this Sunday the 22nd of September at 11am at Margaret Mahy Playground. Anyone who is passionate about our waterways is invited to bring their friends and whānau to come together and celebrate. The event will include a shared pot-luck lunch followed by a paddle on the river at 12.30 with a flotilla of boats - kayak, paddleboard, or canoe – enjoying our local river. With hot and sunny weather forecast and local waterways top-of-mind for many Cantabrians, Mayell is hoping to see dozens of boats filling the river this Sunday. “It will be a fantastic spectacle and a great way to formally launch this community-led project.”

Further information about the Drinkable Rivers movement and the World Rivers Day celebration is available at drinkablerivers.nz

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