Canterbury’s rivers and streams are an important natural resource for biodiversity values, cultural and recreational activities and tourism.
As the population of Christchurch has increased, human activities have greatly increased the amounts and types of pollutants entering our urban waterways.
The Avon River has long been seen as the “jewel in the crown” of Christchurch and it is a prominent feature of the new “Central City Plan”. But did you know that of all the many and varied rivers throughout Canterbury, the 2 most polluted rivers are the Avon River/Otakaro and the Heathcote River/ Opawaho.
Christchurch City Council monitors the quality of our urban rivers. This graph shows the pre-earthquake quality of our urban rivers – the line shows the percentage of samples taken that were more polluted than guideline levels for a healthy river - in 2002 this was more than 80%!
Before the earthquakes, the amount of pollution in our urban waterways was dropping, but still more than 30% of samples taken in 2009/10 were more polluted than the guideline healthy levels.
The earthquakes have had a huge effect on the quality of our rivers – raw sewage had to be pumped into our rivers as an emergency measure after both the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes. And just like many of our homes, our rivers have suffered from a build up of liquefaction.
Now more than ever, when everyone is working so hard to put our city back together, it is crucial that we protect the ecological health of our waterways so future generations can continue to enjoy them as we have in the past.
For more information on the effects of the earthquakes on our rivers, see these reports from EOS Ecology.
This website is full of useful tips for at home, at work and at play to help us all do our bit to protect our urban waterways.