Hawke's Bay residents are being praised for their "boots 'n all" attitude to cleaning up the region's rivers.

Following the release of a new national report on New Zealand river water quality trends that showed cause for optimism, Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham said the health of regional waterways was now at the forefront of most people's thinking.

"It's very pleasing that generally, there's a positive picture but we have a long way to go on some of our rivers, especially the Karamu, but we are moving forward.

"It's the result of a lot of activity from farmers and other community groups, who are doing things. People are reacting positively and doing things.

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"There's no doubt that regional and district councils can't do this themselves. They rely on the community to help, and the community are getting in there - boots 'n all."

Not only were groups like Forest and Bird helping but local schools and other smaller communities were all pitching in, he said.

"Having said that, it's a journey and we still have a long way to go."

The National River Water Quality Trends released by Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) yesterday revealed that for all river water quality parameters monitored over a 10-year period, more sites were improving than deteriorating.

Trends analysis was led by Cawthron Institute freshwater group manager and ecologist Dr Roger Young who described the overall picture as encouraging.

"Looking back from 2016 at a decade of data, for every monitored parameter, more sites showed evidence of improving water quality, than degrading.

"My hope is this could represent a turning point in New Zealand's river health story.

"While this analysis gives us cause for optimism, water quality is just one indicator of river health and there is still more work to be done.

"While all parameters show there are more sites improving than degrading, there are still degrading sites for all parameters.

"In order to continue further improvements, we need to invest in freshwater ecosystem management, routine monitoring, and further research and innovation."

The National River Water Quality Trends (2007 – 2016) released by LAWA follows a similar 10 year analysis released in 2015 by National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

Compared with the 2015 report, a change in the trend of nitrogen was particularly noteworthy, with significant progress in the number of improving sites compared with the number that were deteriorating.

LAWA chairman Stephen Woodhead said the report was about looking at what's happening in New Zealand's waterways overall.

"It's important to have a national picture of river water quality trends so we know how we're tracking. I invite all of New Zealand to get behind the effort to improve this trend picture further."

Overall, Hawke's Bay's waterways provided mixed results, with the Karamu Stream, upstream from the Whakatu Rail Bridge, ranked in the "worst 50 per cent" of rivers for E-coli pollution, which was registered on the LAWA website at 220 n/100ml.

The Taipo Stream at Church Rd was rated even lower. LAWA placed the river in the worst 25 per cent, after it recorded an e-coli reading of 900 n/100ml.

On the other hand, the Ngaruroro, downstream from Hawke's Bay Dairies was ranked as one of the best 25 per cent of rivers, as was the Tukituki River at Black Bridge. The Tukituki river was also listed as having an improving trend when it came to nitrogen levels.