The pollutant in the air that we’re most concerned about is called PM10. These particles are so small we can’t even see them but when we breathe them in, they can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
The new Canterbury Air Regional Plan, and the plan that came before it, set out ways to reduce PM10, so our region can work towards meeting the government’s health-based guidelines. Because of the initiatives in these plans, especially those for home heating, we’re now seeing real progress across Canterbury.
Data collected shows that the government’s guideline for average daily PM10 concentrations was exceeded in our region on 130 days in 2008, compared to 45 days in 2017. Christchurch’s St Albans monitoring site has seen a particularly dramatic drop – from 54 in 1999 to just four in 2017.
We still have a way to go, but these numbers show that our communities are getting behind the push for cleaner, healthier air. We will keep working alongside households who need to upgrade their home heating to make sure they have the help they need to stay warm next winter. This will include continuing to offer subsidies to low-income households who meet certain criteria. Anyone with worries during this time of change should contact us.
Although home heating causes most of the air pollution in our towns, the Air Plan also restricts other sources too, including outdoor and industrial burning. Outdoor burning on properties under two hectares (in both urban and rural areas) is not allowed without resource consent, unless it’s for cooking. Green waste can be burnt on properties over two hectares but only if certain conditions are met. A smoke management plan is needed for any crop residue burning or for outdoor burns lasting three or more days. Special buffer zones have been created on the outskirts of Timaru and Ashburton, and properties inside those zones need a resource consent for crop residue burning.
Enjoy the water this summer
For lots of Cantabrians, and visitors to the region, these long warm summer days mean one thing – swimming. People often flock to our amazing beaches, but there are also excellent river and lake swimming spots which are not as well known. Like the beaches, conditions are not always perfect so being well informed about where to go is a great start.
This summer, we’ll be lending a hand so you can find out where’s good to swim.
We work through Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) to provide up-to-date information about water quality in our rivers, lakes and beaches to the public.
Environment Canterbury monitors around 100 swimming sites every week during summer, and we post this information online on the LAWA site just in time for the weekend.
Check online before you go, and get the inside scoop on all the best swimming spots in your local area. You can find information at lawa.org.nz/swim, and find out more about Canterbury’s water on our website at ecan.govt.nz/water. Keep an eye, too, on our ‘Canterbury water’ Facebook page for the latest updates.
Obviously good swimming isn’t just about the quality of the water – if you are in any of our rivers, make sure you know what the water is doing upstream (eg rain that could lead to high water volumes very quickly); check for any submerged logs or rocks; stay sun smart and look out for others.
Enjoy fabulous, safe swimming this summer – visit lawa.org.nz/swim.
Water dogs: keep them safe
You may have heard of blue green algae, otherwise known as cyanobacteria. This algae occurs naturally all year round, but it is more common in summer - and it can kill animals.
We monitor for it and place warnings at popular swimming spots. However, cyanobacteria can occur anywhere, at any time.
Know what to look for: Avoid contact with water that is cloudy, discoloured, or musty smelling, or if it has small globules, a coloured scum, or thick, slimy dark brown or black mats on the riverbed.
Sounds disgusting, but for some reason some dogs love it! Keep them safe – if in doubt, keep them out.
All boats in Canterbury need an identifying name or number displayed on both sides.
This could be a large sticker printed by a sign shop, or painted on. It needs to be a contrasting colour to the boat, letters/numbers at least 90 millimetres high, above the waterline on the hull, and visible from 50 metres away.
The name or number could be your boat’s trailer registration number, radio call sign, Maritime New Zealand registration number or sporting organisation number. Non-powered vessels under six metres long – like paddleboards and kayaks – only need the owner’s name and contact details written somewhere on board with a marker pen.
Read the boat safety rules in full: ecan.govt.nz/bylaw
Correct identification demonstrated
Meet the locals
Who lives here? Canterbury is home to some 600,000 locals according to StatisticsNZ’s June 2016 estimate. Our population has a higher median age than New Zealand as a whole; we have one of the highest car ownership rates in the country; and Selwyn and Waimakariri districts in particular are growing rapidly.
Where's good to swim today?
Look out for our summer swimming spot information campaign this summer. Visit www.lawa.org.nz to find out where’s good to swim each week.
What’s on in the region
If you think digging for treasure on the beach is just for pirates, think again! The annual Big Dig is back on Wednesday 27th December at Leithfield Beach and everyone is invited.