Forum seeks freshwater feedback

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Upper Clutha residents will be asked to give feedback on the future of freshwater at a forum on Monday.

Shaping Our Future executive Anita Golden said the Upper Clutha Freshwater Taskforce had collected information from public forums held in Wanaka and Queenstown in May last year and now had a set of recommendations.

Next week’s forum was the opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations before the report was finalised and presented to agencies, individuals and groups responsible for action.

Freshwater was not necessarily an infinite resource – “it’s not just that you can take what you want and use what you want”, she said.

One of the key recommendations in the report was encouraging businesses to have an active water management plan.

“That’s looking at reducing water use, reducing contamination and runoff.”

By being proactive, businesses could find ways for better and more efficient use of water, she said.

With the extent and scope of development taking place in the district, more could be done by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council, she said.

An example was the Wellington City Council’s water-sensitive urban design guide that showed developers how they could make use of measures to reduce water runoff and contamination while enhancing the environment, she said.

With growth and development, previously green land turned into roads and houses, increasing the amount of contamination and the volume of water going into stormwater systems and eventually flowing into the lake.

“So water-sensitive urban design looks at different ways you can build, more efficient ways you can build.”

Ensuring stormwater and waste water systems were not flowing directly into the lake and rivers was one of the recommendations in the report.

“The thing with water is it takes a very long time for contaminants and problems to show up.”

It then took a long time for remediation work to have an impact, Ms Golden said.

“It’s very hard to change what has already been done, but there are things that can lessen that impact.”

Shaping Our Future had developed the Upper Clutha Freshwater Vision 2050 with three parts – pure water, healthy ecosystems and an engaged community, Ms Golden said.

The challenges that could affect that vision included rapid population growth, tourism, urban and rural business, and climate change.

The Upper Clutha Freshwater Forum takes place on Monday, September 9 from 6pm at the Wanaka Presbyterian Church, Tenby St.

Freshwater challenges…A graphic shows the vision and challenges for the future of freshwater in the Upper Clutha.PHOTO: SUPPLIED