Water recharge project getting results

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The Hekeao/Hinds Water Enhancement Trust’s managed aquifer recharge (MAR) project is making a difference and has made good progress since its first pond was established at Lagmhor five years ago.

The MAR project has now reached the end of its five year trial and is the country’s largest managed groundwater rehabilitation project.

It involves the intentional recharge of water to aquifers for environmental benefit.

Infiltration basins, which act like big leaky ponds, are filled with high-quality clean water which seeps down and recharges the groundwater, which in turn enhances quality and replenishes aquifers.

The Hinds MAR project had expanded its site numbers to 17 and there were now two active river project sites and two more under development, project manager Brett Painter told Ashburton District councillors at a recent presentation.

More than 2000 plants had gone in at a recent planting day at a near river recharge site near Mayfield and 3500 more were going in.

Water quality issues in the Hinds catchment were being addressed through the MAR project and also on farm through improved land use practices with irrigation and fertiliser application.

The five year trial had proved the concept, but the job was not done, and it now needed to be scaled up into the catchment in order to get the benefits in the ecosystem.

Results of water quality testing in the lower Hinds for the first five months of 2021 showed it was near the 2035 target and follows the introduction of a near river recharge site on the river near Mayfield.

Mr Painter said next June would see the end of government funding for the project and more funding would be sought.

More long term consents were needed, as was access to more water.

There were plans for more sites and more distribution and there would be a need to piggy back on current resources to do that, Mr Painter said.

He welcomed the support of the Hinds community which will be the primary funder of the MAR project over the next three years through a targeted ECan rate.

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown congratulated Mr Painter and Hekeao/Hinds Water Enhancement Trust chair Peter Lowe on the progress of the project over the last five years.

A lot of effort from the trust and support of farmers had gone into it.

Hurdles had been jumped, but that hard work was paying off and getting results, he said.

-By Mick Jensen