Sediment concern spurs new river catchment approach

Water quality in the Matakana River, above the falls, is being tested every three months. On site last month were, from left, Martin Evans, John Collins and Mark Foster. The testing regime covers air and water temperatures, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrates and phosphorous.

The health of the Matakana River catchment, which includes the Glen Eden River, is the focus of a group that will be officially launched next month.

Friends of Awa Matakanakana formed in late 2017 but only became incorporated recently.

Inaugural chairperson Dr John Collins, of Sandspit, says the group is ready to play a larger role in local catchment management issues.

Auckland Councillor Penny Hulse will be the keynote speaker at the official launch in the Matakana Hall on Thursday May 16.

Representatives of Ngati Manuhiri, WaiCare and other organisations have been invited to attend, and the group will display photos of what they have been working on over the past 12 to 14 months.

John says there are a number of organisations doing good environmental work in places such as Sandspit, Whangateau, Rainbows End and around the Mahurangi River.

“But it didn’t seem like any one group was taking a ‘whole of catchment’ approach to water quality issues in Matakana, which includes the Sandspit estuary,” he says.

“There is a mosaic of issues across the whole region and we hope local groups will work together openly and collaboratively.”

Members of Awa Matakanakana are already involved in a water quality testing regime, assisted by WaiCare, looking at the health of streams by testing for phosphorous, nitrates, sediment and pH, as well as recording sightings of microinvertebrates. They are taking over the cockle counting in the estuary at Sandspit and hope to eventually test for E coli.

“The amount of development happening in Matakana has the potential to increase run-off into the river, which is of concern. Without care, we could wind up with a dry Matakana River or one that is just a creek.

“We are also keen to ensure that any discharge from the new stormwater system in the village is properly treated and safe to discharge.”

In due course, the group hopes to work with schools and has an expectation that Auckland Council will do its part by “putting the teeth into regulations so that what people think is happening does actually occur”.

The Matakana-Sandspit catchment includes the Matakana and Glen Eden Rivers and many smaller tributaries, the surrounding hills and the Matakana Valley.

Anyone with an interest in the environment and catchment management is welcome to attend the launch. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.



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