This interactive looks at some of the measures you can take to look after your local stream – because if you’re looking after your local stream, you’re looking after our endangered native fish!
There is an increasing interest in urban stream restoration. This interactive looks at some of the measures you can take to look after your local stream – because if you’re looking after your local stream, you’re looking after our endangered native fish!
Even if you don’t live by a stream, there will be a network of underground pipes connecting your home to the closest stream. Some of you may be lucky enough to live beside a stream or river or have a stream cutting through your property. Either way, there is a lot that you can do to keep streams healthy so native fish can thrive.
Take care with chemicals
Take care with chemicals around the home. This includes water-based paint, detergents, food and drink waste and gardening chemicals like pesticides and fertilisers. Never tip pollutants down drains or near streams. Dispose of them in the household sink or toilet so they can be disinfected at the wastewater plant.
Acknowledgement: David Novi, 123RF Ltd
Safe cleaning around the house
If you’re cleaning the car, do it on the lawn so detergents can filter through the lawn and soil before they enter the waterways. Another great tip is to disconnect your downpipe when you clean your roof. This will prevent chemicals entering stormwater drains and streams.
Acknowledgement: V.Nikolaienko, 123RF Ltd
Safe aquarium disposal
Disposing of aquarium fish and plants or cleaning out the aquarium? Never tip aquarium plants or fish down the drain or anywhere near a stream. You may inadvertently introduce exotic species that could cause damage to the waterways. These fish and plants can compete with our native fish and the aquatic plants they depend on. Koi carp are a major pest fish – it is believed they were introduced by people releasing pets into the wild.
Acknowledgement: V.Angkatavanich, 123RF Ltd
Clean your gutters
Keep the clutter out of your gutters by sweeping up grass clippings and picking up rubbish.
Acknowledgement: University of Waikato
Don’t let rubbish get into a stream. Whether it’s a stream in your backyard or you’re out on a walk, don’t litter! Even cigarettes and dog droppings are dangerous – they can add pathogens and other toxins to the water. Learn more about poo and water contamination in Sources of poo. (Note that E. coli, one of the harmful bacteria found in poo, is not harmful to fish like it is to humans.)
Acknowledgement: S.China, 123RF Ltd
Plant stream edges
Plant native sedges and shrubs on the banks of any stream or wet seepage area on your property. This will provide shade and food for the fish from fallen leaves and insects. Not sure what to plant? Talk to your local council.
Acknowledgement: D.Naumov, 123RF Ltd
Remove invasive weeds growing near the stream so they don’t spread. Invasive weeds can choke out native plants that our fish depend on and can also block water flow.
Acknowledgement: Alligator weed image courtesy of Cheri van Schravendijk
Pull out any litter from the stream that you can safely reach, but leave stable fallen logs and boulders for fish habitat. Contact your local council to see if there are any local stream clean-up days where you can take part. If not, why not volunteer to organise one with council support?
Acknowledgement: University of Waikato
Immediately report any dead fish or unusually smelly or discoloured water to your local or regional council. These could be signs of contamination, and the sooner authorities can deal with contamination, the sooner it can be stopped.
Acknowledgement: Eel image © Auckland Council and stream image © Te Warena Taua
Join a conservation organisation
Join a local stream care group to protect your local waterways. There are lots of groups that are involved in local conservation – it’s an excellent way to give back, keep fit and care for your local environment. Check out the Department of Conservation website for conservation groups in your area or the NZ Landcare Trust for local care groups.
Acknowledgement: Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua
Use friendly pavers
Use grass pavers or cobbles instead of concrete for driveways to allow rain to soak naturally into the ground. These permeable surfaces allow for water to pass through them and will help to stop flooding events and excess sediment being carried into streams.
Acknowledgement: Rioblanco, 123RF Ltd
Install a rainwater tank
Install rainwater tanks to harvest water from the roof and reduce the volume of water rushing into our streams. Tank water can be used to water the garden, and it could be very helpful for your family in case of a natural disaster.
Acknowledgement: SuSanA secretariat, Creative Commons 2.0
Keep streams natural. Dams, weirs, ditches and diversions can harm fish life and would likely need a council consent.
Acknowledgement: Juandev, Creative Commons 3.0