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In the running . . . Weed and predator control work in the Tasman River has put a group comprising Doc staff, landowners, volunteers and two major power companies in the running for the top prize at the New Zealand River Awards. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Two South Canterbury environmental projects are finalists in the New Zealand River Awards.

The awards, which are organised by Cawthron Institute, aim to highlight projects that have made positive impacts on waterways around the country.

An ongoing project to restore the Tasman River – which feeds into Lake Pukaki – has been selected as a finalist in the awards.

Now in its 15th year, Project River Recovery has been working on controlling pest plants and predators through a joint scheme involving the Department of Conservation, power companies Meridian and Genesis, and local landowners and volunteers.

One major improvement has been the growth of black-fronted tern numbers, from fewer than 100 a decade ago to more than 600 birds in 2017.

Another local connection on the shortlist is ex-Timaru entrepreneur Logan Williams, who is focusing his efforts on the invasive algae didymo, which has affected many South Canterbury rivers.

The 23-year-old Ngai Tahu innovator has been working to lessen the impact of “rock snot” on the region’s rivers by transforming the algae into a 100% recyclable, eco-friendly plastic alternative.

The New Zealand River Awards will be announced in Wellington on November 7.