The Canterbury Regional Council’s (Ecan’s) Annual Goundwater Quality Survey 2020.

Groundwater quality survey released | Environment Canterbury (

The 2011 – 2020 ten year trends in Canterbury’s groundwater quality, released by Ecan in July 2021, show no evidence that Ecan is a credible manager of this region’s groundwater.

So far the costly and unverified farm environment plans based on the OVERSEER model have proved to be ineffective, despite being the key management tool of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy since 2010. Ecan does not appear to have any other tools to meet its statutory obligation under the RMA (1991) to maintain or enhance Canterbury’s freshwater quality, quantity and ecosystems.

In 2021 Ecan justified a rate increase of 24% in order to manage freshwater?

With regard to nitrate pollution, the Annual Groundwater Quality Survey 2020 found;

118/322 wells are “very likely” or “likely” showing increasing trends in nitrate pollution

20/322 wells do not meet the NZ MAV for drinking water

Just 114/322 wells have < 1 mg/L NO3-N

During the same period the NZFFA has conducted monthly nitrate testing of surface waters in the lower Selwyn Water Zone and less frequent testing in the Ashburton and Hinds Water Zones.

In collaboration with Greenpeace the NZFFA has tested > 400 well samples in the Waimakariri, Selwyn, Ashburton and Temuka Water Zones. Ten wells in Ashburton and six in Temuka exceeded the MAV (11.3%). The Timaru District Council is presently providing tanker loads of potable water to the Rangitiata Huts Community due to water above the MAV for nitrate

The NZFFA has now found 5 Canterbury streams or rivers including two hatchery streams with nitrate levels > 7.0 mg/L NO3-N. The Selwyn River reached 9.87 mg/L in 2021, while Hart’s Creek remains stubbornly above 8.0 mg/L.

Two large coastal drains in the Hinds Water Zone exceeded the New Zealand MAV for drinking water of 11.3 mg/L NO3-N!

It is hoped the Ministry for the Environment, on receipt of this report, will take note of Ecan’s inadequate performance and take some overdue corrective action(s).

Footnote to readers: Ecan has taken 10 years to demonstrate they cannot manage Canterbury’s freshwater water, yet thanks to the pecuniary interests of Canterbury Regional and District councillors, Ecan has trashed the region’s rivers and groundwater through its single focus on GDP. Tell Minister Parker  Kiwis have had enough.

Peter Trolove

President NZFFA

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1 Response to The Canterbury Regional Council’s (Ecan’s) Annual Goundwater Quality Survey 2020.

  1. "Nor' Wester" says:

    A major player in this shocking state of nitrates in water was the John Key government when it sacked the democratically elected Environment Canterbury Council and put its own sycophantic commissioners in. Environment Minister Nick Smith was a major figure in the upheaval which paved the way to expand corporate dairying. Where are Key and Smith now? Thank goodness, gone but in another way, they should be publicly held to account.

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