Beyond the Surface: WWP Partners with Deep Dive Division

We are excited to be supporting Deep Dive Division and their work to help clean up the Waikato River.

The WWP’s SDG 6 target is to increase the number of swimmable rivers and lakes in the Waikato region from 30% (rivers) and 73% (lakes) in 2019 to both waterway types achieving more than 80% by 2030. Our 2023 update report also reported that:

·       70% of the rivers in the Waikato have satisfactory overall water quality (measured by the presence of E.Coli)- no change from 2003

·       Only 6.8% of the region’s waterways have excellent clarity, and 63.6% are unsatisfactory

·       2.1% of the region’s waterways are excellent for swimming, however 80.87% are unsatisfactory.

There are many extraordinary community, Māori, government and philanthropic organisations and people in the Waikato who are working hard to improve the quality of our waterways and their margins. Alongside the significant leadership of organisations including iwi, landowners, community groups and the Waikato River Authority, a huge amount of work is underway to improve the quality and mauri of our significant awa, wetlands and lakes.

While much focus has been on water and catchment quality, our river is also affected by its use as a dumping ground for refuse and litter. In 2022, Deep Dive Division completed a scanning operation of 7 key swimming sites along the central catchment of the Waikato awa. From this initial scan, they were able to gather data and footage of vehicles and hazardous debris. This scan was funded by Waikato Tainui and enabled the subsequent funding from the Waikato River Authority to remove the vehicles and hazardous debris located.

In Dec 2022, Deep Dive Division began Stage 1 of the salvage and with key project partners, made clearing the awa of hazardous debris and restoration of mauri – a reality. Some of the key facts from the operation to date include:

·       12 cars

·       21 tonnes of debris

·       8 Lime scooters

·       2 gaming machines

·       6 bikes; and

·       2 motorbikes

The Waikato Wellbeing Project is supporting the use of videography to capture and share the story of Beyond the Surface- helping people to see the volume and scale of debris that is being removed from the Waikato awa and the potential there is to further restore its mana. You can see the first episode of Beyond the Surface here:

Debris, including an old Toyota Landcruiser being Removed from the Waikato River.