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All-ages-participation . . . South Canterbury residents Rose (9, left) and Albie (6) Doran joined in the discussions at the OTOP community roadshow in Geraldine last week, where they learnt about local water resources and biodiversity. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

When Canterbury’s water issues were discussed at a community meeting in Geraldine last week, there was participation by both children and older residents.

The two afternoon and evening meetings on January 30 were the first in a series of workshops to discuss the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) Water Zone Committee’s draft recommendations.

Environment Canterbury youth engagement adviser Debbie Eddington said it was important for younger residents to be involved in the process, as any decisions would have an impact on their future.

“Will they be able to farm, fish, swim, boat and drink water the way we do now?”

She said children often had creative ideas on how to do things and their natural curiosity could be very helpful when the adults got stuck on some of the hard questions.

“The kids chatting with me are in tune with sustainability and do have concerns about water quality in particular.”

One young participant, Albie Doran, already had a knowledge of stormwater after studying it at school, she said.

“He already had a great knowledge of sewer networks and what goes out to sea – more than many adults know.”

An Environment Canterbury spokeswoman said more than 40 people came along to the two meetings, at which the committee’s draft recommendations were discussed – including suggestions concerning management of drinking water, recreational and cultural use of water, as well as water use on farms and nutrient management.

The next meetings would be held at the Pleasant Point Rugby Club rooms on Tuesday and Pareora’s Southburn Hall on Wednesday.

Fairlie’s workshop would be held on February 20 at the Fairlie Golf Club and Timaru’s at The Grosvenor on February 21.

Committee chairman John Talbot said the group was keen for people across South Canterbury to attend the meetings and committee members would be spread around the room to allow for one-on-one conversations.

The committee was eager to hear from people who would be directly affected by the recommendations, he said.

“If it’s a scenario that we aren’t aware of, we want to know about it now rather than further down the planning process.

“These decisions will impact on future generations to come and we want to ensure we will be able to meet the community’s expectations for fresh water.”

Mr Talbot said feedback so far had been both positive and negative.

The draft recommendations are available online at ecan.govt.nz/otopzipa and from Environment Canterbury offices and local libraries. Feedback can also be provided via the website or by emailing barb.gilchrist@ecan.govt.nz