The Hekeao/Hinds Water Enhancement Trust (HHWET) is a non-profit community led group bringing together agencies to enhance Hekeao/Hinds water systems for the environmental, recreational, cultural, domestic and agricultural benefit of the community.

HHWET Water Enhancement Projects include the Managed Aquifer Recharge project (MAR) which is New Zealand’s largest managed groundwater rehabilitation project, delivering ecosystem health and enhanced environmental, cultural and recreational values.

New Zealanders want clean rivers, streams and waterways. We want to be able to swim in, fish, gather mahinga kai, enjoy and most importantly drink from our freshwater sources. We also want our future generations to enjoy that same opportunity.

The Hekeao/Hinds catchment is within the borders of Mid Canterbury. The Pacific Ocean forms our eastern coastline, and the Southern Alps form the western boundary. We are bordered to the north by the Ashburton River and to the south by the Rangitata River. This farming area is among the most productive irrigated agricultural districts in New Zealand.

Increased farming intensity, climate change and other demands on our water resource have resulted in adverse environmental effects – namely reduced water quantity and also reduced quality because of increased nitrate concentrations. The Hekeao/Hinds community have recognised this and are addressing these catchment environmental issues, both through on-farm changes and catchment scale enhancements. HHWET are leading several catchment scale enhancements and are also contributing to some on-farm initiatives.

HHWET’s goals are to:

  • Target and protect drinking water supplies
  • Enhance groundwater quality
  • Improve baseflows to spring-fed streams and rivers for ecological, cultural and social values
  • Improve and sustainably manage groundwater storage (levels)

In order to achieve these goals, HHWET are involved in trialling and implementing several complementary tools to help address water quality and quantity issues. These include Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR), Near River Recharge (NRR), Targeted Stream Augmentation (TSA), irrigation nutrient recycling, constructed wetlands, and bioreactors.