Region's rivers celebrated on World Rivers Day with latest data released

The last Sunday of September marks World Rivers’ Day for 60 countries, and will be recognised by Horizons Regional Council joining its counterparts across the country in releasing their latest state and trend river data on the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website. 

World Rivers’ Day aims to highlight the value of rivers, increase public awareness and encourage stewardship of rivers across the world. Rivers are not only essential for water supplies, but they are also home to aquatic plants and animals, including many species native to New Zealand. Many of our rivers are also a recreational playground for anglers, swimmers and water sports.
Horizons actively works with its district and city councils, iwi, landowners, organisations and community groups for the betterment of the Manawatu-Wanganui Region’s rivers, the Manawatu, Whanganui and Rangitikei, and their many tributaries.
From scientists, hydrologists, land management officers and rural advisors, to consent planners and monitors, policy analysts and environmental educators - every day, staff from Horizons Regional Council work alongside their communities to protect and enhance freshwater in this Region.

Horizons natural resources and partnerships manager Dr Jon Roygard says physical parameters including water flow, sediment load and dissolved oxygen levels, along with chemical parameters such as nitrogen and phosphorus and biological monitoring of periphyton, invertebrate and native fish all play a part in determining water quality at any given site.

“A range of this data is captured and shared with our own website visitors and with those on the LAWA website,” says Dr Roygard. “There they can access state and trend data for the last 10 years for rivers at a regional, catchment and site level.

“Within the Horizons Region there are no declining trends for total oxidised nitrogen and dissolved reactive phosphorus over the 10-year period (January 2006-December 2015). Of the 26 sites tested for a trend in dissolved reactive phosphorus 31per cent show an improving trend and 69 per cent an indeterminate trend.  In the case of the 34 sites tested for a trend in total oxidised nitrogen, 47 per cent have an improving trend and 53 per cent an indeterminate trend.

“Programmes such as the Manawatu River Leaders’ and Horowhenua Lake Accords and the Sustainable Land Use Initiative have enabled the council to work alongside communities, local government, iwi, industry and landowners to improve water quality,” says Dr Roygard.

“It’s pleasing to see the positive results of this work through our targeted science and monitoring programmes, which include effluent management, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, environmental farm plans, riparian planting and stream fencing.

“A site that has revealed significant improvement in the Horizons Region, and recognised with two Morgan Foundation Riverprize awards is the Oroua River at Awahuri Bridge location, downstream of the Feilding wastewater treatment plant. This site has improved in most parameters measured, including dissolved reactive phosphorus, bacteria (E.coli), water clarity and turbidity.”

With thanks to Stephen Tindall, a supporter of LAWA since it launched in 2014, the Tindall Foundation sponsored the production of 16 River of the Month videos. The Oroua River is highlighted on the LAWA site and can be found here

LAWA connects the public with the environment by sharing local stories and information about the quality of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, beaches and air, as well as water quantity data. Regional and unitary councils have updated the freshwater and recreational data available on the LAWA website for this weekend, so the public can find up-to-date information for their area, including the health of rivers.

All of the river data state and trends for the Horizons Region can be viewed at The regional council information that is used on the LAWA website will also contribute to a new national environmental reporting regime being designed by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand.