Freshwater Management Unit for Hokitika

People who care about their local rivers and the way the water is used might want to show up for meetings in Hokitika and Harihari this week.

The West Coast Regional Council is about to launch the Hokitika Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) and it needs volunteers from all sectors of the community to be on it.

The Hokitika FMU is the third to be set up on the coast, after the establishment of Grey/Mawhera and Karamea groups, and it takes in the area from the Taramakau River to the Waiau (Franz Josef).

FMU’s are part of the government’s strategy to stop the degradation of rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands around the country.

In line with the National Policy Statement on freshwater, the West Regional Council – and others – must now set water quality limits for aquatic ecosystems, and recreation.

The council wants local communities to take the lead, identify what they value about the freshwater in their area, understand the issues, and come up with recommendations on how best to protect and allocate it.

The West Coast FMU’s operate in partnership with Poutini Ngai Tahu, and must take mana whenua cultural values into account.

The Regional Council’s Chief Executive Mike Meehan says the Grey- Mawhera and Karamea FMU’s are up and running and making good progress, with science support from council staff.

“Water quality on the West Coast is very good and generally there’s no shortage of it – but that’s not always the case and there are things we could be doing better.”

The community effort to halt and reverse the decline of water quality at Lake Brunner had been a model for what could be achieved when local people identified and tackled a problem, he said.

The council is hosting information evenings on the Hokitika Freshwater Management Unit at the Westland District Council chambers on Tuesday 21 January and at the Harihari hall on Thursday 23 January

Both sessions run from 5.30 to 7.30.

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