It has been reported in the media that ECan has agreed to an independent review of to examine “the current state of health of the Opuha River below the Opuha Dam including the Kakahu River.” You can link to the article here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/130008119/regional-council-commissions-independent-review-of-kakahu-river
As noted in the media coverage, OWL’s position is that we welcome and support any formal investigations into the health of our waterways, especially by independent reputable organisations.
The phrase “independent reputable organisations” is a deliberate choice of words. Much of the information sent to ECan, Fish & Game and news media, and that circulating on social media, is comprised of rumour, comes from sources with little to no scientific credibility, or the sources of the information have simply not been identified. It is important everyone focuses on the legitimate information that is available, and that will come from ECan’s independent review.
We will encourage ECan to ensure the review looks beyond just the Opuha Dam and takes a holistic approach to consider other drivers of water quality and ecosystem health, such as the introduction of didymo in the Opuha system, climatic variability, and other key influences beyond our control.
While there are opportunities for improvement with water quality in our catchment and, indeed, throughout Canterbury, it is simply not correct to claim or infer that the Opuha Dam and releases from our irrigation scheme are the primary, or sole, cause of these water quality issues. Indeed, we are confident that the Opuha Dam has significant positive impacts on the waterways in the catchment, and so look forward to the findings of this investigation and any recommendations for further improvement it might identify.
Meanwhile, we will continue to use our website and social media to demonstrate our commitment to water quality. We want our testing and compliance regime more visible and better understood, so the facts are out there in a proactive and positive way.