The Environment, Canterbury

Hit after hit after hit…Just how bad does it have to get….??

, The Environment, Canterbury

Hinds River, Mid Canterbury, Surveyors Road Bridge, upstream view 25th April 2021

You would think that having a nitrate level of around of around 6.5mg/l, most of your flow removed, and all your fish gone would be enough of an environmental hit, but no, it appears some think more was needed, a bulldozer has recently driven down the river, mostly with its blade down, no doubt to facilitate the spray truck which has followed spraying all and sundry including the water!

Just what is wrong with the decision makers who would allow such a complete and overwhelming environmental catastrophe to take place?

Out of the way and clearly out of mind for most, it is on this little stream this person learnt to fish many moons ago

Significant change started some 15 years ago, bit by bit, first all the little fish disappeared, then slowly with no replacements, the larger adults went too. Then a dry season followed and the water all but dried up, and that was that – it has never recovered since

The reasons are quite clear, the lower river is mostly fed from springs that in turn are fed from ground water. My view is the change from border dyke to spray irrigation reduced the amount of ground water recharge, so less water for the springs. Critically for the river, it also meant the existing ground water irrigation takes, consented when the ground water levels were much higher, are taking water from an environment with less capacity, i.e., a reduced volume of ground water storage. These combined impacts mean the ground water has been drawn down lower than it naturally would be, and therefore the flow in the river is now exceptionally low.

, The Environment, Canterbury

Pump shed beside a dry drain, the pump was still running, undoubtedly abstracting from the ground water below the drain

A long with the changes in the type of irrigation used, a large proportion of the irrigated land has converted to dairy, where urine produced nitrate easily leach through the thin topsoil’s to find its way into the ground water system, hence the high nitrate levels in the river.

, The Environment, Canterbury

The graph shows the nitrate levels over recent years

The Hinds River is within the receiving environment for the recently re-consent MHV irrigation scheme. A huge scheme with 56500 hectares re-consented. There are no other industries within the area – it is all farmland – the source to the nitrates cannot be disputed.

, The Environment, Canterbury

The Receiving Environment – This is looking down river off the same bridge

The Mayfield-Hinds-Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme was recently re-consented non notified, meaning the public were excluded from having their say on this scheme and the clear impacts on the environment.

Environment Canterbury are responsible for river flood control work, which is likely the reason for the bulldozing and spraying of the riverbed.

Steve Gerard

NZFFA Executive

Trustee Future Rivers Trust

Mid Canterbury


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9 Responses to The Environment, Canterbury

  1. Angler Pete says:

    On the plus side the irrigators were pumping, the paddocks contained an abundance of urea enriched monocultures of ryegrass. The body condition scores of the thousands of Friesian cows were on target. If only we could manage the environment as well.

  2. Nicholas Lorenz says:

    Disgusting! What is wrong with ECan?

  3. Bing says:

    I cannot fathom out the mentality and the lack of conscience of politicians, river engineers, contractors. It is very sick. NZ’s clean green image a big fat fib
    Well what is Jacinda Adern, David Parker (Miniser Environment) going to do? They promised in 2017 to halt the vandalism with rivers. Seven years later, little or no tangible action has been taken.

  4. Neil Watts says:

    Great piece of factual work.I fished the Hinds and like you have seen the decline in the water flow and quality.Money rules the roost these days

  5. Zane Mirfin says:

    So glad and thankful I got to fish many Canterbury lowland fisheries in the historical era before they were Ecanned.

    Alas, poor Hinds River I knew you…

  6. Jim Hilton says:

    This deliberate poisoning and mismanagement of our land has to stop.
    The agricultural revolution started about 4000 years ago in the Middle East on the fertile soils of the rivers Tigris, Euphrates and Nile. Now they are mostly desert and would be largely uninhabited if it were not for underground oil.
    Kiwi’s fancy themselves as pretty smart. Most of our ancestors came here for a better life than the countries we came from. It is not smart to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors. There are no excuses. I have no objection to irrigation. What we have to stop is the deliberate input of poisons. We can live and farm without factory made poisons like the nitrogen fertiliser urea, the toxic plant killers like glyphosate, the toxic insect killers like the neonicitinoids and the animal killing poisons like 1080. There are natural ways of maintaining soil health, water health and our health which are well known and have been practised for generations. We have to return to them NOW. It’s the only responsible option.

  7. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Just one of many a step below disaster& hopeless

  8. Grant Henderson says:

    Hinds “River”? Hinds polluted ditch is a more accurate description.

    Still, some farmer somewhere must have made money, so that justifies the damage done.

    Incredible that this sort of thing is happening.

  9. Colin Taylor says:

    The gradual depletion, dessication and demise of the Hinds River is a downright disgrace with its extinction – along with the many species that once thrived in it – being laid squarely at the steps of Environment Canterbury (isn’t that name an Oxymoron?); the Ministry for the Environment and Department of Conservation (DoC).
    I come from the viewpoint of a keen former Canterbury fly fisher, but its not just the destruction of a beautiful lowland trout river that’s of concern to all Cantabrians.
    As detailed in a 1972 Fisheries Report by the NZ Maritime Department entitled DISTRIBUTION OF NATIVE AND INTRODUCED FISHES IN THE
    HINDS RIVER SYSTEM, pages 7-10; there were 11 indigenous species of fish recorded as thriving in this river – along with introduced brown trout and the rare (in NZ) American brook trout which only succeeded on its introduction in very few of our rivers.
    For all their talk about ‘protecting’ indigenous species and condemning trout as ‘introduced predators,’ the Ministry of the Environment and Doc have done nothing to prevent the Hinds River as an environment for native fishes being pumped out on land historically unsuited to dairy farming and used for dry crop, sheep and dry cattle farming; with its contents sucked up by giant irrigation systems to create an artificial environment for nitrate polluting dairy cows.
    It is worth reading the contents of this 1972 Government report at the following link – even just the key pages 7-10 to see what has been lost in the Hinds River by the actions of Ecan and inaction of the Ministry of the Environment and DoC.
    Shame on the hypocritical three of them!

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