Christchurch and Banks Peninsula are characterised by a network of waterways.

These range from large lakes to narrow tributaries with intermittent flows, including:

  • Lake Forsyth/Te Roto o Wairewa and part of Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora, as well as a number of smaller lakes
  • About 78 kilometres of rivers, including the Avon/Ōtakaro River, Heathcote/Opāwaho River, Styx/Puharakekenui River, and part of the Waimakariri River and Halswell/Huritini River, as well as a number of rivers on Banks Peninsula
  • About 2605 kilometres of river tributaries and other smaller streams (many of them ephemeral).

Enhancing our waterways

Improving the quality of our waterways is a goal of our community and is a priority for the Council. It’s also a requirement of the Council's Comprehensive Stormwater Network Discharge Consent (CRC190445).

It can't be achieved by stormwater treatment approaches alone so we are proposing a behaviour change programme on educating, engaging and empowering communities to help stop contaminants getting into stormwater. This programme will be delivered through a Community Waterways Partnership.

The Partnership is looking to involve the Council, Canterbury Regional Council, Ngāi Tahu, Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, Canterbury District Health Board, Universities, schools, industry representatives, river care and other community groups.

Before we can develop the behaviour change programme the first steps are to identify and understand what motivates people, the barriers to people taking action and the emotional triggers that prompt change. This will be critical for prioritising effort, funding and knowing when the programme is achieving its aims.

To achieve this, in 2018 we undertook a survey to identify and understand how affiliated people were with their local waterways. We asked what people thought about the city’s waterways — how healthy they were, what the main influences on water quality were, things people did that might have a negative effect, and what steps people might be prepared to take to improve the health of our waterways.

More than 400 people took part in our survey, and the results show how much the community cares about the health of waterways. The vast majority of people (about 90 per cent) think our waterways are natural assets and 75 per cent describe them as taonga (treasure).

Nearly 60 per cent of people who completed the survey said our waterways were in poor or very poor health, while 55 per cent of respondents said they knew where stormwater went once it entered the drain network.

The vast majority of people were prepared to make lifestyle changes to reduce pollution (more than 80% depending on the action) and 56 percent of those surveyed would be willing to take part in waterways clean-up activities.

The full report can be viewed here 2018 Global Research Christchurch Waterways Survey Final Report [PDF, 1.1 MB]