A government funding boost that will help protect southern lakes is “good news” but “well short” of what is needed, Guardians of Lake Dunstan chairman Glen Christiansen says.
The extra $7.5million of funding over the next four years is to help Land Information New Zealand (Linz) do biosecurity projects, tackling invasive weeds and pests in lakes, rivers and lands.
It will double Linz’s annual spending on aquatic weeds such as lagarosiphon to about $2million.
Linz is responsible for biosecurity at Lakes Dunstan, Wanaka, Wakatipu, Benmore and Aviemore in the South Island, and several Te Arawa Rotorua lakes and Lake Karapiro in the North Island.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced the funding in Wanaka last week but did not say what the split of funding between the lakes would be.
Mr Christiansen said the funding was “a start”, but not enough to tackle the “vast” problem of issues in southern lakes, such as lagarosiphon.
“My problem is that central government and [other] funders have allocated $27million towards cycleways in our district and we’re going to be cycling past this beautiful pathway of weed in the lakes. I don’t see how we’re putting our best foot forward.”
He said Government goals such as being predator-free by 2050 “are obviously not looking at waterways”.
He said he would like to see a “strong approach” to dealing with lagarosiphon in Lake Dunstan and other lakes.
“It’s [lagarosiphon control] never going to get any cheaper, and the longer we sit on our hands and do nothing the more it’s going to cost.”
Ms Sage said the funding would allow Linz, working with planning consultants Boffa Miskell and Niwa (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), to increase surveillance of lake weed, as well as improve the monitoring and evaluation of control activities such as hessian matting and herbicide spraying.
While in Wanaka, Ms Sage heard first-hand about the impact hessian matting has had on weed control. She said the extra government funding would mean more matting could be used for weed control in lakes and other waterways.
Boffa Miskell biosecurity project manager Marcus Girvan said the new funding would add “much-needed effort to our biosecurity operations, as well as surveillance into those waterways that don’t currently have [such] weeds”.
“The threats that are posed to us here are significant and our natural heritage is certainly at risk, so we are very grateful for that new funding.”
Guardians of Lake Wanaka chairman Don Robertson said he was pleased by the funding, which was “a nice surprise”.