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Te tiaki ara rerenga wai

Caring for waterways

Waterways can include any inland body of water, such as streams, ponds, lakes, or rivers.

Maintain a healthy waterway

A healthy waterway:

  • is free of pollutants, so they don't reach our beaches
  • adds value to your property
  • helps manage flood risk.

Property owners and residents are responsible for taking care of private waterways.

For more information on maintenance responsibility, see Who maintains watercourses.

Select suitable plants

The right variety of native plants around the stream:

  • creates shading
  • enhances wildlife habitat
  • holds back rainfall and soaks water into the ground
  • makes banks more stable, reducing erosion
  • sustains the stream during the dry season.

Remove weeds that may suffocate native plants and block the flow of water.

Protect our freshwater from pests

Our freshwater habitats are already under pressure from pollutants. Pest fish and weeds pose an added threat.

Fish like koi carp sift through bottom sediments to feed, quickly turning the water muddy and unsuitable for swimming. Others, such as catfish, eat indigenous animals such as kōura.

Oxygen weeds fill the water, tangling boats and swimmers.

How pests spread in freshwater

Pest weeds are often spread as small fragments around boat propellers, inside anchor wells, on boat trailers, on fishing gear, waders, water-skis/wake boards, or they are introduced when unwanted aquarium fish or pet fish are released from home ponds and aquariums into waterways.

Under the Regional Pest Management Plan, it’s illegal to spread freshwater pests to new waterbodies. Find out how to identify a weed or pest animal

How you can help to stop the spread of pests in freshwater

  • Thoroughly inspect and clean your boat, boat trailer and gear before moving between waterways.
  • Clean nets, waders and other gear when moving between waterbodies - get advice on how to effectively clean outdoor recreation equipment.
  • Return unwanted aquarium pets to your local pet store.
  • Compost aquarium plants.
  • Do not release plants or animals into waterways.

Find out more about rules relating to freshwater pests.

​Reduce erosion

A few well-placed rocks or logs can reduce erosion by slowing down the flow of the stream.

Retaining walls do the opposite, making the flow higher and faster. Asphalt and concrete carry runoff into waterways without holding pollutants back.

Prevent severe erosion

If there is severe erosion around your waterway, you may need engineering works that require consent.

Phone us on 09 301 0101 to get advice.

Use wire fencing

If you need to build a fence for safety, or to stop cattle entering waterways, use wire fencing. Solid fencing, such as timber or brick, can obstruct the flow of water.

Build the fence parallel to the water flow. If the fencing runs across a floodplain, make sure that water can flow through it.

Keep waterways clean and chemical-free

Make sure that the waterway is free of litter, garden waste and fallen trees.

Do not use detergents, fertilisers and pesticides in areas where they might flow into the waterway.

Funding for waterway projects

We offer grants and funding for waterway and wider environmental projects.

Search our range of grants.

More information

For more tips on managing your waterway, see our caring for urban streams guides under Stormwater forms and guides. For more information on monitoring our freshwater resources, see Environment Auckland Data Portal.

For the national guidelines on water quality, see the Microbiological Water Quality Guidelines for Marine and Freshwater Recreational Areas on the Ministry for the Environment website.

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