Why is the catchment so important?
While water quality is perceived as being generally good, our waterways are no longer as pristine as they appear and face increasing pressures on five fronts: urbanisation, rural development, tourism growth, climate change and introduction and spread of flora and fauna. Rapid urban growth offers particular challenges for freshwater management, with vegetation areas that previously absorbed rainwater being replaced by bare or impervious surfaces that direct runoff (and pollutants) into stormwater drains that flow into lakes and rivers. Future growth needs to be better managed to ensure that the combined impact of land use change, more houses, more cars and more people doesn’t automatically lead to degraded water quality.
Our native beech forests, braided rivers, wetlands and glacier-fed lakes are unique ecosystems. They are home to rare birds and fish species. These include Kea, Kakariki, Tom Tit and South Island Robin in the forests, and New Zealand shoveller, Pied Stilt, Black Gulls, Grebes and Black Swans. Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea are home to the Koaro (one of five white bait species ‘at risk’ for extinction), Common Bully and Long Fin Eel (Tuna). The lakes support three introduced gamefish species: Chinook Salmon, Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout.
The concept of ki uta ki tai (from the mountains to the sea) is important in Upper Clutha, given our location at the headwaters of the Clutha River. Those living and visiting the area have a responsibility to ensure that the water that leaves the catchment is of a high quality, and that problems are not passed on to those downstream.