Caring for the environment  |  18 Jun 2019

Small blue fish are being used to help raise awareness in Christchurch that the water that runs down our stormwater drains impacts on the health of our streams and rivers.

The blue fish, which represent the native banded kokopu and longfin eel that make their home in some of Christchurch’s waterways, have been placed alongside many of the city’s stormwater grates.

Dr Clive Appleton with one of the golden fish.

Dr Clive Appleton with one of the golden fish.

They are designed to be a visual reminder to people that the water that flows through the grates ends up in local streams and rivers and impacts on the fish habitat.

“We want people to be aware of how our stormwater system works because hopefully they will then see how small changes in their behaviour can make a big difference to the health of our waterways,’’ says Christchurch City Council Natural Environment Team Leader Dr Clive Appleton.

“Stormwater, which is any water that falls on roofs, roads, paths and other hard surfaces, picks up pollutants and litter, flows untreated via drains into local waterways. That means, for example, if you wash your car on your driveway, all the detergent you use will eventually end up in a nearby stream or river.

“What we want people to know is that there are simple things that they can do to help keep our waterways clean and our fish healthy,’’ Dr Appleton says.

Those simple things include:

  • Washing your car on a lawn or shingle driveway where the soap and dirt can soak into the grass and soil, or at a commercial carwash
  • When you put your wheelie bins out for collection, check the street gutter outside your property for litter and dispose of it in the correct bin.
  • Brush your driveway clean; never wash it where the water will end up on the road and in the stormwater drain.
  • Do not use cleaners and fertilizers around the home where they can be washed into the stormwater when it rains.

“If we all make an effort to do these things, the fish will love us for it,’’ Dr Appleton says.

During KidsFest six golden fish will be hidden around Christchurch’s city centre for children to find. 

Children who find four of the six fish can go online to win prizes including a Hunting and Fishing kids start-up fishing package and one-on-one fishing lesson, Macpac outdoor gear, Orana Wildlife Park family passes, Willowbank Wildlife passes and swim passes for Council pools. The competition is open from 6 to 20 July.