Hutt Valley Water Group to look at rehabilitating water quality in the valley

  • Published Date 07 Aug 2013

Hutt Valley Water Group to look at rehabilitating water quality in the valley

 A multiple agency approach to improve the state of the river and the ground water in the Hutt Valley has been established.

The Wellington Regional Council last week convened a meeting of various groups including Upper Hutt City Council, Hutt City Council, Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, Friends of the Hutt River and the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce to begin the process. 

Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde says the meeting was a first step and provided an overview of scientific research in the catchment undertaken by the council, some in partnership with other organisations including NIWA, GNS, the Cawthron Institute, Massey University and Victoria University.

"The science will form the basis of an on-going dialogue between residents and the three councils which have regulatory and delivery responsibility for aspects of the land and water in the Hutt Valley.

"We expect this Hutt Valley Water Group will be active in the community and will spearhead local community initiatives to help improve water quality.

"Later next year the Regional Council will be establishing a formal committee based on Wellington Harbour, which is the receiving catchment for the whole of the Hutt Valley and much of Wellington City. This committee will include local councils and communities, and will have decide on water quality in the catchment. It will also work with the councils on other aspects of land and water management. The committee is one of five being established around the region under the new Regional Plan and which will be called Whaitua Committees.

"The informal Hutt Valley Water Group is a forerunner to the Wellington Harbour Whaitua Committee and  will allow progress to be made earlier than would otherwise be possible.

"We will be meeting again in September to begin a real dialogue around solutions.  What is important is that we are collaborate and ensure that we are utilising the scientific information that is available to identify and solve these issues."

In June a group of scientists from various research institutions were brought together by the regional council and Upper Hutt City to share knowledge about Hutt Valley surface and ground water.

Regional Council Environmental Science Manager Graham Sevicke-Jones led the group on behalf of the council and says the Hutt River, its tributaries and the Hutt aquifer are subject to  much scientific research that demonstrates the complexity of the inter-related water bodies.

"We are aware of major community concern about some issues such as the presence of toxic algae, which has been subject to focussed research.  As researchers in the rest of New Zealand are finding, we do not yet have the exact answers to be able to manage it.

"We do know, however, that a number of factors influence the health of the Hutt River so the question for scientists and the community is how to use the knowledge we have to start to improve the quality while maintaining our research programme to get more answers.

"This challenge will be long term and will require multiple work streams."

Ms Wilde says the scientific reports had indicated that rivers and streams in areas of intensive agricultural and urban land use are the most degraded in the Hutt River catchment.  Rural streams include the Mangaroa River and lower reaches of the Pakuratahi River, while the Waiwhetu Stream and other streams in the valley  are affected by urban land use.

"It's important that the local people own both the problem and the solution so we are now considering how we can involve communities such as Mangaroa residents in projects to decide how they want their river to be and what needs to be done to get it there.

"This is the sort of local initiative that hopefully will come out of the Hutt Valley River Group and its successor, the Wellington Harbour Whaitua Committee, when it is set up next year."

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Updated April 29, 2022 at 11:59 AM

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