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Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between the Waipa Catchment Plan project and Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai? 

Another significant project underway in the Waipa (and Waikato) River catchments is Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai.  It is working with stakeholders to develop changes to the regional plan to help restore and protect the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers. Waikato and Waipa River iwi and Waikato Regional Council are partners on this project.

The two projects are complementary and will both contribute to the restoration and protection of the health and wellbeing of the Waipa and Waikato Rivers. The Waipa Catchment Plan does this by setting out a wide range of proactive actions and support for the community over the next 20 years. Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora will develop new policies and rules in the regional plan, including setting limits and targets for all water bodies. Technical outputs from the Waipa Catchment Plan will be available to support the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora project in developing limits and appropriate targets.

What contaminates the Waipa River?

Three main types of contaminants affect the Waipa River – sediment, bacteria and nutrients. They can enter the river as:

  • point source discharges - from a clearly identifiable source, such as a pipe
  • non-point source (or diffuse) discharges - from a wide area such as run off from land.

Contaminant

Levels*

Sources

Impacts

Sediment

high levels, rising trend over last 20 plus years

Landslides and streambank erosion are the main sources for the Waipa.

Two thirds of the sediment in the lower Waikato comes from the Waipa.

Municipal sewage, urban stormwater, industrial discharges are regulated and considered to be minor sources.

Koi carp also contribute to sedimentation.

makes water murky, so less safe for recreation and reduces amount of light for plants and animals living in the water

Bacteria

high but stable levels

Dung of:

  • farm animals
  • feral animals
  • birds

Farm animal dung is the likely dominant source in the Waipa.

Municipal sewage, urban stormwater and septic tank and industrial discharges are regulated and considered to be minor sources.

human health risk, can cause minor illnesses such as ear infections or diarrhoea

Nitrogen

rising trend over last 20 plus years, typically at 1-2% per year

Rising trends due to land use changes and intensification.

Mainly non-point sources, a small amount from point sources

Much of the overall N load in the rivers comes from farmland, particularly from urine excreted onto paddocks.

Municipal sewage and industrial discharges are regulated and minor sources.

Urban stormwater is considered to be a minor source.

Levels above water bodies’ natural background levels can over fertilise aquatic plants, lead to excessive plant growth, algal blooms and depletion of dissolved oxygen, affecting fish and other aquatic life.

Phosphorus

moderate levels, trends vary along the river, but rising in most downstream site at about 1% per year

Much of the P in the rivers comes from:

  • soil washed off agricultural land
  • run off containing dissolved phosphorus
  • farm animal dung.

Municipal sewage and industrial discharges are regulated and minor sources.

Urban stormwater is considered to be a minor source.