A local environmental group devoted to restoring and maintaining the health of the Matakana and Glen Eden river catchments is preparing to bid for more than $3 million of the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.
Friends of Awa Matakanakana (FOAM) has been chosen as a key stakeholder for an Auckland Council-led application in recognition of its efforts and plans to assess and manage water quality and sediment loss from both rivers into the Sandspit estuary.
If successful, the bid would also fund a work programme to improve the quality of the rivers and allow for improved community access to both waterways.
In the three years since the group began, FOAM members have developed work programmes and technical strategies to monitor water quality and sedimentation and test for bacteria in the 5000ha catchment. Founder member Martin Evans said the group wanted to stop sediment, stop contamination and allow people to enjoy the two rivers, each of which is about 14km long, but first they needed to study exactly where the sediment was coming from, which required significant funding.
“It’s part of the Government’s Covid-19 response, so we would need to employ people,” he told the annual meeting of the Matakana Community Group last month. “We’re seeking more than $3 million, and we want to work with Ngati Manuhiri.”
He said it would take years to assess the extent of sediment loss and to collate information, but progress had already been made since FOAM was formed three years ago.
“There was no catchment management plan, no data, no rain gauges,” he said. “Now monitoring has increased and we’re one of the largest citizen science groups in New Zealand.
“We know 80 per cent of sediment is coming from 20 per cent of the area. We have to prove where the hotspots are.”