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Published: 2002-06-06 00:00:00

Prime Minister Helen Clark will be visiting Environment Waikato’s Fieldays site after opening the event on June 12.

She will be given a briefing on the Council’s Clean Streams project, which will be launched at Fieldays. The site, M26 in the Premier Feature area, introduces landowners to the project’s concepts. Environment Waikato has major plans to clean up the Region’s waterways over the next decade, injecting up to $10 million over the next 10 years into fencing off streambanks, lakes and waterways.

At its Fieldays site Environment Waikato will have information available about Clean Streams inside an open barn display area. It will outline the benefits of managing waterways, including farm benefits, protection of water quality, provision of food and habitat for freshwater life, improved biodiversity and helping ensure the farming industry maintains its clean, green image.

There will also be an interactive touchpond stocked with native fish and freshwater invertebrates to demonstrate the freshwater life in clean streams.

Outside there will be demonstrations of the type of fencing and planting which works best, showing the differences of setting back fencing from the water. There will also be lively demonstrations five times a day by the Swamp Stomp Gumboot Dancers.

The aim of the Clean Streams Project is to improve water quality in the Region’s waterways. Keeping animals out of water with fencing and planting improves water quality, makes the banks more stable and stops livestock from trampling and contaminating water.

Fencing also protects animals from water hazards, improves their health and productivity, tidies up messy areas and improves the capital value of farms.

The aim is to “extend the best” by starting upstream on good quality waterways, where a quick response is more likely for fewer dollars. There will also be a focus on linking areas of existing stream vegetation, rather than working on separate stretches of waterways.

The project will concentrate on where work is already happening, building on work already being done with care groups under management plans or other work. Priority will also be given to applications which demonstrate a good example to the local community and commitment from the landowner.

While many farmers are already working on protecting their streams on their own land, it is estimated that only 20-30 percent of the banks in the Region are fenced, leaving about 39,000km unfenced. Landowners could obtain up to 35 percent of the cost of waterway management.

The Clean Streams funding will provide money for promoting, encouraging and supporting protection of streams and rivers to improve quality, stream life, wildlife habitat and the value of land. Money for the project comes from earnings from the Council’s Investment Fund, which had previously been used to inflation-proof the fund.
The first target for the funding will be streams in the Coromandel. They score the highest in aquatic biology, margin biodiversity, on-site water quality and downstream water quality. Upper Hauraki streams and inflows to Lake Taupo are next on the list, followed by upper Waikato tributaries and west coast streams.