The health and well-being of the Manuherekia River and its ecosystems must be the priority in deciding the catchment’s future, Fish and Game NZ says.
“The river needs to have a much greater share of the water,” Otago Fish & Game environmental officer Nigel Paragreen said.
Fish & Game said it welcomed the public consultation on the Manuherekia River by the Otago Regional Council and that they will “carefully consider the five proposed scenarios for flow management during the consultation period.”
However, the organisation noted that a study by the Cawthron Institute found flows below 2300 litres per second are indicative of ecological stress.
“The work to date in the Manuherekia tells us that the way the river has been managed historically just isn’t good enough,” Paragreen said.
“The river has suffered as a result. Other river users suffered as a result.”
The catchment suffers from excessive abstraction and water quality issues.
“In most years, the result is low flows, sometimes for extended periods. The places where most people swim are being choked with sediment and algae.”
Fish & Game encouraged members of the public to take part in the consultation.
“The process of setting minimum flows for the Manuherekia in the modern era after 100 years of mining rights will not be simple. But the priority must shift back towards the river and the public.”