Canterbury water needs your help

©  Mark Bridgwater

Here’s one way to lend a hand... Canterbury’s freshwater (rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers) continues to come under pressure and needs more people looking out for it.

A good way of doing this is to take an interest in Environment Canterbury's Water Management Strategy. The CWMS has been developed over the past eight years to address the issues around water in Canterbury, and provides a collaborative framework to sustainably manage this precious resource.

Canterbury has been divided into ten zones based on catchment areas.  Each zone has its own committee made up of community members, council representatives and Rūnanga. We encourage you to get involved and go along to the zone committee meetings  for the areas you are most interested in.  How about getting a small team of 2 or 3 people together to share the attendance?  By attending zone committee meetings you will be showing the committees and the councils that Canterbury people still really care about water issues. You are, in effect, taking on a watchdog role.

The 10 zones are:

  • Hurunui-Waiau
  • Waimakariri
  • Selwyn-Waihora
  • Ashburton
  • Lower Waitaki
  • Upper Waitaki
  • Orari-Opihi-Paeroa
  • Kaikoura
  • Christchurch-West Melton
  • Banks Peninsula

Meetings are held monthly, except for January.  To find out about the CWMS, and when and where the zone committee meetings are held, check out the ECan website:

More about zone committees

The zone committees operate as joint committees of the regional council and the local territorial authority. They comprise some 7-10 members who are locally based or have a special relationship with the zone.
Membership of committees is by appointment (not election) with members drawn from Environment Canterbury, territory authorities with an interest in the zone, Ngai Tahu/runanga, consent-holder representatives and stakeholders, and ‘respected’ members of the community. A single person may have several different interests.

The zone committees are expected to work collaboratively to develop water management implementation programmes, taking into account programmes in other zones, as well as the work addressed by the Regional Committee.
Council resolutions are required to approve and formalise committee implementation programmes.

Zone implementation programmes address matters such as:

  • environmental restoration and development
  • economic development, land use intensification/reduction
  • land-use practices
  • wastewater discharge
  • zone-scale infrastructure, and its environmental impact
  • reconfiguration of allocations between surface and groundwater
  • water brokerage and efficiency improvement
  • water quality and quantity
  • customary use
  • recreational and amenity provision
  • commercial use