Merged water trust ready for action

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Exciting times lie ahead for the newly-formed Upper Clutha Lakes Trust, members say.

The trust, formed last week through the merger of Lake Wanaka Trust and Upper Clutha Water Group, had projects ready to go in the next few months, trustees Mandy Bell and Russell McGeorge, and secretary/treasurer Julie Perry said.

“We have a new trust, which is two bodies now working as one, and we’ve been quite complementary with our work streams,” Dr Bell said.

Upcoming projects included a riparian tree planting project run by Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust, which involved planting native species along waterbanks in the region.

A comprehensive lakes water management plan would be developed by the trust, and an urban research project would begin shortly. The research project, run by Catchments Otago and based at Otago University, would explore stormwater runoff from the township of Wanaka into Roys Bay.

A plan for the Alpine Lakes Research and Education Centre (Alrec) was also progressing, the trustees said.

Alrec spokeswoman Dr Ella Lawton said negotiations were progressing well, and they hoped to have more updates at the end of April.

The Alrec project involved a partnership between the trust, the University of Otago and Otago Fish and Game Council.

Potential users of the centre could include the Canterbury and Otago universities, the Cawthron Institute and international researchers, Mr McGeorge said.

“The idea is to have a facility that people can work from.

“Initially it won’t have accommodation, but eventually the aim is to have accommodation associated with it, so PhD students could come and stay here and do work on the lake.”

The trust hoped to have a temporary facility opened by the end of the year, he said.

“The trust wants the Alrec project to demonstrate its commercial feasibility.”

The aim was to use the temporary facility to show how viable the project could be before a more permanent facility was explored, he said.

Another project was putting monitoring buoys on the lake.

“These are quite sophisticated things that float in the lake and have radio telemetry,” Mr McGeorge said.

Data collected by the buoys about what was happening on the lake could be radioed out as often as every 15 minutes, he said.

A report conducted by the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (Niwa) for the Otago Regional Council (ORC) recommended monitoring buoys for Lakes Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu, he said.

The trust would be making a submission in support of the ORC buying and maintaining monitoring buoys as part of the ORC’s long-term plan.

The trust was also exploring the possibility of using satellite imagery to trace what was happening in the lakes with government organisations, including the Centre for Space Science Technology, Mr McGeorge said.

“From that imagery you can see things like lake snow, so you can look at where did it start first, how extensive is it, all that sort of thing.”