Upper Clutha Lakes and Catchments Water Management Plan

In June 2018 the Upper Clutha Lakes Trust (formerly the Lake Wanaka Trust and Upper Clutha Water Group) secured funding from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund (FIF), one of 34 projects nationally to improve freshwater management and the only project funded in the Otago region. The FIF fund focuses on water bodies in vulnerable catchments that are showing signs of stress, but which have not yet reached a tipping point.

The Upper Clutha community places a high value on the natural environment and access to the outdoors. Risks to rivers, streams, wetlands, aquifers and lakes in the Upper Clutha include:

  • Urban development – stormwater, urban run-off toxins, inadequate infrastructure
  • Rural development – intensification of agriculture
  • Tourism/recreation
  • Waterfowl
  • Flow reduction, level reduction, off-take
  • Bacterial, viral and protozoan pathogens
  • Biosecurity breaches, pest spread
  • Herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers, top dressing
  • Burn-offs
  • Nutrients – nitrates, phosphates, ammonia
  • Sediment run-off
  • Climate change – temperature increase, wind increase, rainfall change
  • Biological (e.g. species mix) and ecosystem function change, loss of biodiversity, loss of top predators (eels)

The Trust is working with the community, regulators, scientists and other stakeholders to understand these risks and develop plans to manage their impacts.

The funding from FIF is supporting the Wanaka Water Project, which involves three key streams of work:

1. Catchments Plan

The development of a community-led water management plan supported by iwi, urban residents, tourism operators, visitors, farmers, scientists and regulators (Otago Regional Council and Queenstown Lakes District Council).

2. Riparian Planting

Strategic plantings to restore riparian margins, led by Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust in partnership with landowners, QLDC, ORC and other stakeholders. To support the planting, click here.

3. Applied Research

Applied research supported by Catchments Otago and the University of Otago studying Wanaka stormwater runoff. This research will assess the effects of urban development on lake health and use results to define management measures.

The outcomes from the Wanaka Water Project will improve and maintain the long-term health of the wider Upper Clutha catchment area including Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and the Clutha, Hawea and Cardrona Rivers. Sargood Bequest, Million Metres and Queenstown Lakes District Council are providing additional funding to support these projects.

For ideas and tips on how you can get involved and help out, check out our Fundraising Toolkit.

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