Opihi Water Project

NZ Landcare Trust is leading the Opihi Water Project in South Canturbury thanks to funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries. More than $220,000 has been allocated over a three year period from the Sustainable Farming Fund. This will contribute to total predicted project costs of around $430,000.

The Opihi catchment covers 384,000ha of South Canterbury and includes over 2600 farms. The project will adopt a coordinated approach to develop widespread understanding of water quality issues and realistic land management solutions to improve the quality of the surface and ground water in the Opihi catchment. The project will work alongside community groups to enhance initiatives that will help develop solutions for water use efficiency allowing an increase in the area of irrigation and productivity without increasing the environmental footprint.  

This project will present an excellent opportunity for the community to help drive a catchment scale project which aims to increase farm profitability and productivity while reducing environmental impacts. The Opihi River system also has cutural significance to local iwi and provides important mahinga kai.

Update - April 2016

The Trust has recently worked with eight community catchment groups to create specific information sheets that capture the aims, challenges and actions associated with each catchment area. While common themes can be found, the case studies are different, reflecting the perspectives of each group... more> 


Project Update - March 2016

It has been a busy summer for everyone in the OTOP zone with regular catchment group meetings involving presentations from ECan staff - details of which can be found in the March 2016 newsletter. Progress is being made in the Sub-Regional Plan process and the Zone Committee, which now meets monthly. We are planning for catchment groups to deliver presentations to the Committee on local issues and activities. It is intended that responsibility for delivering presentations would be rotated between the groups.

A workshop was held at Pleasant Point in November for catchment group facilitators and steering group members. The intention was to provide an opportunity to increase understanding around the benefits of working collaboratively, the need to engage on the development of water plans and to identify current issues the region. A brainstorm session also focussed on what actions can be taken to help resolve these issues. Some of the identified issues included water quality and quantity; soils; biodiversity; funding and communication. Mike Barton from Lake Taupo was the key note speaker and outlined key lessons from a farmers perspective, such as working together when faced with environmental challenges and caps - such as the Nitrogen cap. Mikes presentation can be found in the right hand column of this web page.

A riparian planting field day held at Andy Palmers dairy farm in Orari in March provided an opportunity for some great discussion. Andy started planting the riparian margins 15 years ago with native plants sourced from Opuha Nurseries in Geraldine. He also worked with Ines Stager, who is a local landscape architect to come up with riparian planting plans - long before it was commonly talked about.  Key Points:

  • Fence a wide margin
  • Only plant what you can maintain
  • Use minimal variety of species
  • Identify species that fit your site
  • Mark plants for follow up maintenance
  • Weed control is critical particularly in first 5 years
  • Source from local nurseries as you will get better survival.

Looking ahead we have been working together with project partners and stakeholders to plan a range of field days and workshops for landowners and catchment group members. These include:

  • Get to Know the Pareora River - an opportunity to find out more about water quality issues in the Pareora River. While Summer flows are often low in the river attendees will get to see how insect life survives in the streambed, waiting for the autumn rain.
  • Winter Grazing Field Day - as part of the Working for Opihi Water Catchment project farmers and community  are invited to Craigmore Station, Pareora to discuss and see best practice methods of winter grazing.
  • Overseer Workshops - understanding changes and influences on Overseer, supported by Ballance AgriNutrients and Ravensdown.

More details on all these items can found in the March 2016 Newsletter.