Several rivers and lakes in the region are on track for major enhancements after being allocated funding by the government's Freshwater Improvement Fund.

They are the Whangaehu River, Lake Waipu near Ratana and the Waitotara River. A total of 33 projects throughout New Zealand will share $44 million from the fund.

Horizons Regional Council, in conjunction with territorial authorities, iwi, and landowners, applied to the fund for initiatives within its region.

The Ngā Wai Ora o te Whangaehu Freshwater Improvement project will cost $1.68m, with $590,000 being contributed by the Ministry for the Environment. This project will include 60km of stream fencing to prevent stock access, 12,000 riparian plants, five fish pass fixes and 10 community-led restoration projects.


"We're collaborating very closely with Ngati Rangi iwi and landowners, who are providing a combined contribution of over $450,000 towards the Whangaehu River initiatives," Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said.

Horizons has also committed more than $450,000, with the Freshwater Improvement Fund covering $590,000.

Improvements at Lake Waipu will mean effluent will be discharged to land instead of into the lake. Horizons will oversee this project and contribute $75,000 towards a science and monitoring programme over three years. Rangitikei District Council has committed $950,000, with the Improvement Fund providing the balance of $875,000 towards the estimated $1.9m total project cost.

"These projects will add further value to the regulatory and non-regulatory work already being undertaken, for which we are seeing improved freshwater quality results," Horizons natural resources and partnerships group manager Dr Jon Roygard said.

"Water quality trends across the 36 sites monitored region-wide from 2006-2015 show 16 per cent of sites have improved in turbidity, 22 per cent have improved in bacteria levels, 28 per cent have improved phosphorus levels and over half of the 36 sites have improved nitrogen levels.

"We know there is still more work to be done, and these newly funded projects will continue to move us in the right direction to improving freshwater for our communities."

In South Taranaki the fund has earmarked $2m to be spent over the next two years to transform the Waitotara River. A massive project of riparian planting alongside rivers and streams in Taranaki has been running for a decade and this will now be extended to the Waitotara catchment.

Whanganui MP Chester Borrows has hailed the latest efforts to improve water quality in South Taranaki as "a huge step towards the eventual ecological health of our waterways".


"Intensification of dairying on the ring plain and coastal terraces, along with the loss of natural streambank habitat for native fauna, has naturally increased the risk of waterway contamination from overland runoff and so a programme of riparian fencing and planting will be undertaken to intercept nutrients, sediment and pathogens to improve water quality and biodiversity."