Environment Southland has released a draft regional target for swimmable lakes and rivers as part of the Ministry for the Environment’s National targets for swimming water quality. The national targets were released in 2017, and indicated Southland’s rivers were 60.2% swimmable and lakes were 98%.
This assessment used modelling to grade rivers and lakes into different categories according to how often the levels of bacteria are suitable for swimming. The purpose of modelling this information was to help regional councils assess how much improvement was needed in order to meet the Government’s national targets of 80% of lakes and rivers swimmable by 2030 and 90% by 2040.
Using the Ministry for the Environment modelling, Southland’s rivers will see a 5.5% improvement by 2030, taking our target to 67.5%. The modelling takes into account the current work being undertaken across Southland to improve E.coli levels, combined with the actions required in the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan.
Environment Southland Chairman Nicol Horrell said that announcing the target is a significant step in recognising where we are at, and where we need to go in improving water quality across the region.
“The target is by no means a goal we are comfortable with, but it is a measure of the work being undertaken by our communities, and the work we have planned to help achieve the Government’s targets. With our People, Water and Land Programme underway, Southlanders will soon have the opportunity to discuss and contribute to more aspirational targets to make Southland’s rivers more swimmable.”
Further targets for 2030 and 2040 will be made available by 31 December 2018.