Catchment plan takes integrated approach

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Water quality from the mountains to the sea is at the heart of a new community catchment plan. The plan has been completed by Wai Wanaka, the new name for Upper Clutha Lakes Trust.

Wanaka Water Project chairwoman Mandy Bell said they worked with residents, community groups, business owners, iwi, visitors, farmers, scientists, the Otago Regional Council and the Queenstown Lakes District Council to develop the plan, which aimed to safeguard water quality and ecosystem function in an integrated way across the whole catchment, encompassing Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and the Clutha, Hawea and Cardrona Rivers.

Project manager Megan Williams said the plan gave them a head start when it came to delivering on the new Action for Healthy Waterways announced recently by the Government.
‘‘I think we are very lucky that this Government has put a lot of funding towards environmental work — over $1 billion.’’

The trust was ‘‘well placed’’ to take advantage of the $1.1 billion investment announced in the Budget to create about 11,000 environmental jobs in the regions.
They had submitted several applications that, if successful, could create local jobs to improve waterways, including fencing, tree planting, maintaining native plants, conducting pest control and more, she said.
‘‘We have got a plan now, we have got a road map, so we know what we want to do.’’

Like the rest of the country, the Upper Clutha Lakes region was in a ‘‘new reality’’ since the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘‘Around this area we have had a lot of people interested in doing environmental work already, but I think with the lockdown and what we have been through has really shown people how much they value our environment and our natural systems.’’

The plan emphasised the concept of ki uta ki tai — from the mountains to the sea, ‘‘which is important in the Upper Clutha, given our location at the headwaters of the Clutha River’’.
‘‘Our community has a responsibility to safeguard the water in our catchment and to ensure that the water leaving our catchment is of high quality, to avoid problems being passed on to those downstream,” she said.

The trust thanked many who had contributed to the development of the plan, including the Shaping our Future Water Taskforce, Landpro Ltd and Dr Simone Langhans, from the University of Otago.

The Community Catchment Plan is available at the Wanaka Library and can be accessed from waiwanaka.nz.