Bringing back Coes Ford
by Mike Isle
Work is underway to turn Coes Ford back into a popular swimming site as part of a long-term plan to make the Selwyn-Waikirikiri River swimmable.
Swimmable Selwyn is part of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy that sees councils around the province working with Environment Canterbury to manage and improve the region’s water.
As part of Swimmable Selwyn, the Selwyn Waihora water zone committee has set up a working group looking into sources of water quality decline, aiming to deliver certainty for the farming community, and recreation and water quality gains for everyone.
The group has identified Coes Ford as a priority, with a plan for fencing, planting and reducing contaminants, which aims to increase the water quality at Coes Ford and upstream.
Zone committee co-chairs, Megan Hands and Les Wanhall say the work is a response to the strong message from the community that the river needed to be better looked after and the importance of Coes Ford as a swimming spot.
The fencing and planting project has seen landowners, community groups and schools working together to increase the distance of fences from the river and increase planting on the riverbanks, including lower bank plantings.
Already this year about 300 plants have been planted on a farm in the Silverstream catchment above Coes Ford by a team of volunteers from Dairy NZ, the Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee, Wai-Ora Forest Landscapes and Environment Canterbury.
The planting will protect natural springs and improve the water quality.