Adopt a Drain – Summer 2024

Collaboration & Partnership

Community Wellbeing



Functioning Ecosystems

Healthy Ecosystems

Risks to our Catchment

Take Action

Urban Development

Water Quality

Ngā mihi o te Tau Hou / Happy New Year ✨

Summer has come in hot – just like our Adopt a Drain Newsletter ☀

Did you know swimming in our lakes and rivers after a rainfall event can impact your health?

When it rains, contaminants that have built up in our urban areas make their way into our lakes and rivers. This includes pollutants such as car oils, chemicals, fertilisers, soaps and rubbish – many of which can have adverse effects on human health.

To keep it simple, wait at least 48 hours after it rains before diving into your favourite freshwater spot.

LAWA provides up-to-date info on where is safe to swim (versus not). Make sure to bookmark their webpage: Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) – Can I swim here?

An ‘Adopt a Drain’ refresher:

Whatever goes down our storm drains eventually flows (untreated!) into our waterways. ‘Adopt a Drain’ encourages individuals and groups to adopt the storm drains in their neighbourhood, making a pledge to help keep it clear of pollutants. By doing so, we can keep our lakes and rivers swimmable, protect aquatic life and maintain the health of our ecosystems.


Stop the spread of invasive pests

Invasive pests can cause serious issues for our waterways. This includes outcompeting native species, altering water flow patterns and increasing sedimentation in rivers and streams. Many pest species are also easily spread via stormwater runoff. Explore three local examples below and effective ways to curb their spread:

Goodbye gunnera!

Native to South America, this ‘rhubarb-looking’ plant with large leaves can be seen around our community, including local streams like Bullock Creek.

Pulling out gunnera seedlings year round is an easy way to slow their spread. Digging out individual plants or small patches is best practise for 100% eradication in an area.

Learn more here

Nip yellow flag iris in the butt!

A common ‘garden escape plant’ that loves to grow in swampy areas. Yellow flag iris chokes out waterways, forming dense mats that cause flooding and loss of native habitats. Their seeds, which can be poisonous to birds and other animals, float, making it easy for this plant to spread downstream.

Choosing not to plant yellow flag iris in your garden is a great first step to stopping it’s spread. Cutting off/ nipping their flower heads also stops seed dispersal.

Learn more here

No vacancy for invasive pet fish!

Despite what you might think, dumping pet fish like goldfish and koi into a storm drain or local waterway is never a good idea. Although small in a bowl, these fish grow exponentially when released – eating anything in sight, such as native fish, fish eggs, plants and insects. When koi feed, they stir up the bottom of streams, lakes and rivers, muddying the water and destroying aquatic habitats.

Never dump unwanted pet fish into a drain or waterway (or even a ditch!) and report any sightings of unusual fish species to ORC (via: Report Pollution).


To mow, or not to mow?

With Level 1 water restrictions already in place here in the Upper Clutha, choosing the ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to mowing your lawn has benefits for freshwater, people, plants and animals.

By choosing to mow less frequently, your lawn is able to absorb and store more water, reducing rainwater that becomes runoff and keeping your lawn greener for longer during a drought. Even better? begin the journey of converting your lawn into a meadow for local pollinators! Learn more here.


Help us spread the word

The ‘Adopt a Drain’ whānau continues to grow throughout the Upper Clutha, showcasing the incredible passion our local communities have for protecting our waterways. But we’re not stopping here – we’re on a mission to keep this momentum going, reducing stormwater pollution every step of the way!

Do you know a household in our area that might be interested?

Share this blog and help us to grow this initiative. We encourage anyone interested to get in touch by emailing