A Visit From Wai Care—February 14, 2012
The CUE Haven property has a number of streams and ponds and wetland areas. The streams all feed into a tributary of the Wainui stream which joins the Araparera River just below our property, flowing then out into the Kaipara Harbour. We have always been concerned about water quality and the health of our ponds, streams and wetlands. In fact, our revegetation project got its start with early plantings to protect the water quality and the wetlands.
Although we stopped grazing the property in late 2009, we still get cattle runoff from neighbouring farms and we have observed much seasonal change in the ponds over the years.
As a result, we were very happy to get in touch with Wai Care, a water quality monitoring, education and action programme for community groups, individuals, businesses and schools across the Auckland region. Wai Care is an Auckland Council environmental programme.
Rachel Griffiths, the Wai Care community co-ordinator, came out to CUE Haven to have a look around and determine how we can work together and to do an initial assessment of the CUE Haven stream and pond system.
Rachel is one of those people who is full of information and enthusiasm and her visit was both enjoyable and valuable.
We started out by taking a quick tour of the property so that Rachel could get a feel for the terrain and the status of the revegetation project. Along the way, we met the team of Conservation Volunteers who were working on the walking track and Rachel took the opportunity to give these overseas visitors a little background on water quality and conservation issues.
As we walked through the bush and along the main stream, Rachel made a number of useful suggestions about plantings and maintenance and she even found some fish in one of the streams! She suspected that they were native banded kokopu or inanga, which are two of the five species that make up the whitebait catch.
We then inspected the ponds and Rachel used her field test kit to determine the water quality.
We were happy to learn that the levels of oxygen, nitrogen and nitrates in the pond were satisfactory and that the neighbouring farm runoff was not causing significant chemical or biological problems.
The next step was to determine what sorts of macroinvertebrates were living in the pond. “Macroinvertebrates” is a fancy word for bugs, many of which are larvae of the flying insects that live around streams and ponds.
Rachel then examined the sample to see what was swimming around. At first we couldn’t see anything but the longer you look, the more you see. Eventually, we found dragonfly and damselfly larvae, water boatmen, backswimmers, water fleas, mites and a (mercifully) very small leech.
Rachel was happy to see the variety of life in the ponds and that is a sign that the planting is helping to keep the wetland areas healthy. She was especially happy to see the flat mayfly larva because they are sensitive/fussy bugs so finding them indicates good water quality.
We want to thank Wai Care and Rachel for taking the time to visit and give us lots of useful information.
One of the benefits of the Wai Care programme is that they have a strong commitment to education and work with many local schools. In order to continuously monitor the water quality and aquatic life at CUE Haven, Rachel has kindly agreed to come out when we have school planting groups on site. She will talk to the students about water care issues and get them to help her with the water sampling and testing.
We are very happy to be involved with the Wai Care programme and we hope that they will use CUE Haven as a research site for their water care education programs in the Kaipara catchment area.