Environment Southland

Water Story

Haere mai and welcome to our new and evolving Water Story. This is a place where you can learn more about how our fresh waterways are doing and what some of the key stresses on them are. We’ll also be sharing and profiling some of the great things that are going on across the region in an effort to help maintain and improve them. We hope you’ll come on this journey with us.

What can you give to water?

There are many everyday actions, both big and small, that we can do to help maintain or improve our waterways – whether it's in the home, on the farm or out in the community. If we all take on a kaitiaki (guardian) role, we can all help to ensure that the life force (mauri) of our waterways are healthy and strong.

The concept of ki uta ki tai (mountains to the sea) reminds us that our environment is interconnected; our actions can have both good and bad consequences elsewhere. This is evident when we look at our own region, where our land use has been identified as the predominant issue affecting our waterways.

Just as water contributes greatly to the development of our communities and cultures, this development can place considerable pressure back on to our water. For our societies and cultures to flourish and thrive, we must ensure that our water can do so too. Let's give back to water.

What can you do?

At home

Keep pollutants and rubbish out of drains

When you wash your vehicle and equipment on the road or in your driveway, the wash-water ends up down a stormwater drain. These drains are designed for rain water only – they empty untreated water directly into our rivers and streams. Learn how to wash your car without discharging contaminants into the stormwater drains here (0.6MB PDF).

Just as pollutants travel through drains and to our waterways, rubbish can too. As rainwater travels across the road and down the gutters, things like cigarette butts or oil from cars can get into stormwater drains. This is then carried to our streams and rivers.

Reduce your water consumption

Reducing your water consumption can help both water availability and quality, and can save on your hot water bill. Read MBIE's efficient use of water guide.

Have a go at your own environmental monitoring

From counting birds to testing water quality, there are a number of ways you can find out more about your catchment. There might already be a project you can join, or you might want to start your own monitoring. This could be anything from sampling water for testing or using a rain gauge. You can find out more about community environmental monitoring here.

Know the rules

Refer to our stormwater guide (0.5MB PDF) for details of the relevant rules, and other information about applying for permits for the discharge of stormwater in the Southland region.

Help prevent the spread of pests

The most important thing that you can do to keep our waters pest free is to clean not just your boat, but also the marine gear you use. Always Check, Clean and Dry between waterways. If you're taking a boat into the Fiordland Marine Pass, make sure you're got a Clean Vessel Pass – it's a free and simple process that prevents the establishment of marine pests, such as Undaria or Mediterranean Fanworm. If you'd like to learn more about New Zealand's freshwater pest species, check out NIWA's website.

Take time to think about your area

Look at the health and state in your area and ask:

  • Does it look and seem alright?
  • What could that be caused by?
  • What could be done to improve it?
  • What could I do to help improve it?

On the farm

Improve your land and water practices

Environment Southland's land sustainability team offers individual on-farm advice, organises field days and works with community groups to increase awareness of land management issues and good environmental practices. We can arrange a visit to your property and provide free advice and information on a variety of land management issues, from managing wetlands to farm-specific good management practice advice. Visit our website here.

Reduce your farm waste

Running a farm can produce lots of different kinds of waste. Some of the most common types can cause headaches for farmers wanting to dispose of them properly. Learn how to dispose of farm waste here.

Create riparian zones

The strip of land beside a waterway is called the riparian zone, and acts as a crucial buffer between land and water. Some riparian zones are grassed, but ideally they are home to many species of plants that existed prior to land development. Creating effective riparian zones can significantly reduce impacts on water quality and biodiversity. Read the creating riparian zones factsheet here (3.4 MB PDF).

In your community

See if your school is an EnviroSchool

The kaupapa of the Enviroschools Programme is about the well-being of the whole school, community and ecosystem. It is a whole school approach to environmental education. With support from the school community, students plan, design and take action to create a sustainable world. Our team provides environmental educational support to Southland schools, at no direct cost to schools. Learn more about our Enviroschools programme here.

Join a community group or project

There are some great things happening out in our communities, from riparian planting to river clean ups. Find out about the community groups in Southland.

Do some Citizen Science

Citizen Science is the involvement of volunteers in the collection and/or analysis of data. Around the globe, thousands of research projects are engaging millions of individuals – many of whom are not trained as scientists – in collecting, categorising, transcribing, or analysing scientific data. Learn more here.

Have your say

Civic engagement, e.g. participating in public consultations or voting in local body and general elections, is one way we can help shape the collective future of our community and environment. Have your say here.

We want to hear from you

There are lots of people in Southland giving something back to water; whether it's taking part in a river clean-up day or creating riparian zones along waterways on their farm. We want to highlight these efforts and spread the good word, so please get in touch with us and let us know - we'd love to hear from you. Email us.