Posted by Karen Stade on Sep 10, 2017
For the last three years Whakatu Rotary has been cleaning up Nelson City's Saltwater Creek in partnership with the Nelson City Council and Nelmac.
This small creek is an important waterway but suffers from human-introduced rubbish and run-off as it winds its way through the city and out into the mouth of the Maitai River. However, club members have seen a dramatic drop in the amount and type of rubbish they've been collecting over the three years they’ve been taking care of the creek.

In the early stages they were pulling out large pieces of rubbish such as bikes, supermarket trolleys, appliances (including TVs and microwaves) and automotive waste. The latest clean-up on 30 September 2017 saw two stretches of the creek canvassed for rubbish. Although a shopping trolley was found, this time members predominantly removed smaller pieces of rubbish, including broken glass bottles, beer cans, tins, broken tiles and steel rods, as well as discarded clothing and plastic bags. Among the most unusual finds were a metal crutch, a floor mop.

The project is co-ordinated by club member, Paul Harris Fellow and Nelson City Councillor, Brian McGurk, who works alongside council staff to choose dates and times when the tide is low enough to allow members to safely navigate the creek.

When the club first undertook care of the creek, there was no sign of fish or wildlife in, or on it. But in September they saw ducks swimming and a few macroinvertebrates under some of the rocks in what has been the dirtiest part of the creek, a narrow section running between warehouses and big box stores. On the lower reaches as it flows more openly alongside Haven Road, a variable oyster catcher and small smelt or whitebait were spotted. One of the disappointments was the larger number of dead small crabs, possibly the consequence of a silt spill.

It's pretty dirty work that requires protective waterproof gear, gloves and gumboots, but there’s no shortage of Whakatu members happy to help take care of a small but important part of their local environment.