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  Environment » Natural Resources » Water » Rivers

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CAN I SWIM HERE? Waikato Regional Council measures water quality every month at sites in rivers and streams in our region..

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THE WAIKATO RIVER: Find out more about the Waikato River, the longest river in New Zealand.

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THE WAIPA RIVER: Find out more about the Waipa river, the largest tributary of the Waikato River.

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OUR OTHER RIVERS: Find out about our other rivers, including the Piako, Waihou and Mokau.

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HOW HEALTHY ARE OUR RIVERS? Find out more about water quality in the Waikato Region.

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STREAM AND RIVER LIFE: Find out more about what lives in our waterways.

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FISH OF THE WAIKATO CATCHMENT: See our interactive map of freshwater fish in our region.

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WATER QUALITY MONITORING MAPS: See the monitoring information from our river sites.

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WATER TEMPERATURE MAP: Find out about local water temperatures with our interactive map.

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LATEST RIVER LEVEL AND FLOW READING: View our latest river readings.

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CHANGES ALONG OUR RIVERS: Find out about how water quality changes along our rivers.

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LOW FLOW CONSENT RESTRICTIONS: Find out if water take restrictions are in effect.

On this page: what affects our waterways?; managing water qualityyou can help!

Our rivers and streams give the Waikato region much of its distinctive character. Our region has mountain and lowland streams, wild and scenic rivers and the Waikato River.

Some of these places are home to plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

Fresh water is important for the region’s economic, social and cultural wellbeing. We use our fresh water resource in many ways. Uses include:

  • domestic, industrial and community water supply and irrigation
  • electricity generation
  • absorbing contaminants
  • recreation such as swimming, duck shooting, boating, fishing or simply enjoying being near the water.

Maori have strong cultural, traditional and historic links with our wetlands and inland waterways. These fresh water resources are spiritually significant and closely linked to the identities of the tangata whenua (people of the land).

What affects our river waterways?

Catchment land use affects the water quality of our rivers. Water quality in our rivers is:

  • good in undeveloped areas, such as the tributary rivers of Lake Taupo.
  • relatively poor in lowland areas that drain intensively developed catchments, for example, lowland Waikato River.

Flooding and erosion can have major impacts on waterways. Waikato Regional Council's river and catchment management activities are designed to minimise these impacts.

Managing water quality

Managing water quality for all uses is a high priority for Waikato Regional Council. Waikato Regional Council measures water quality every month in the Waikato River, the Waipā River and in other rivers and streams in our region.

We work with care groups in the region to decrease soil erosion and increase water quality.

Waikato Regional Council's provides advice and support for farmer efforts to reduce the impacts of farming on waterways through fencing and planting waterway margins. Find out more about our integrated catchment management services.

Waikato Regional Council works with community groups and other management agencies to protect peat lakes by setting water levels for them. Peat lakes are easily damaged by over drainage of neighbouring land.

For policy information on rivers check our Regional Plan and our Regional Policy Statement.

You can help!

There are many things we can do to improve and maintain our river water quality.

  • Fence off streams, rivers, swamps, wetlands and seeps to prevent stock access.
  • Plant banks of waterways to help stabilise the banks and trap contaminants.
  • Make sure farm dairy effluent irrigators are operating effectively and are moved frequently to prevent effluent ponding and runoff into waterways.
  • Avoid break-feeding or mob-stocking close to waterways, especially in wet weather.
  • Form a care group with your neighbours to discuss and use better land management practices to protect your local waterways.
  • Keep hazardous substances (such as oil and pesticides) out of our stormwater system.
  • Install stormwater detention areas in new subdivisions to improve water quality (less silt and animal faeces reaches the rivers and streams).

Check out our range of publications on freshwater resources in the Waikato region.

Learn more about Māori and their connection to fresh water.

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