Upper Clutha water management project secures Government funding

Funding from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund has been confirmed to support an Upper Clutha project aimed at improving waterway health in the area.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says the Otago Regional Council - on behalf of the Upper Clutha Water Group - has received $385,000 from the fund to contribute to the group’s overall spending of $820,000 spanning the next five years. The funding will enable the group to develop and get under way projects to improve and maintain the long-term health of the wider Upper Clutha area including Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, and the Clutha and Cardrona Rivers. Water quality and health in the Upper Clutha area are vulnerable to the effects of continuing urban and rural development, land use changes and tourism growth. The Upper Clutha Water Group is a collaborative group made up of a wide variety of community and agencies associated with Lake Wanaka.  The group has been working over the past year to share information on water-related issues and activities. 

Its project focuses on three key streams of work:

  • The development and management of a water management plan supported by stakeholder entities, including iwi, urban residents, tourism operators, visitors, farmers, the Otago Regional Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, and scientists.
  • Strategic plantings to restore riparian margins in prioritised areas.  This project will be led by Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust in partnership with landowners, QLDC and other stakeholders and is supported by The Million Metres stream project, a crowd funding project set up by the Sustainable Business Network.
  • Applied research supported by Catchments Otago (a University of Otago research theme) studying stormwater quality in the Wanaka township to help inform safe water use, treatment and future infrastructure development by the QLDC, as well as improving stormwater oversight and water quality protection by the ORC.

ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker said the council is pleased to support and collaborate with the group in the various projects. He applauded the group for its foresight and leadership in the community desire to deliver this long-term approach to waterway management.

Mandy Bell on behalf of the Upper Clutha Water Group said the group is delighted to have the funding confirmed. The Upper Clutha Water Group and Te Kakano will further engage the community to develop an integrated water management plan supported by science, she said.

They will tell the community more about the project at the ORC-led Lake snow public information session on 4 October at 7pm at the Lake Wanaka Centre.