New equipment helps water monitoring at Te Puna-a-Taka/Lake Clearwater

As winter settles in at Te Puna-a-Taka/Lake Clearwater, our team is getting set to install new water monitoring equipment.

Over the past few months, our scientists have been collecting essential data sets from beneath the surface of the Ōtūwharekai Ashburton Lakes. Four monitoring stations are providing detailed information that's supporting urgent work to improve the lake water quality.

A new way to capture data

At Te Puna-a-Taka/Lake Clearwater, a new central logger will be installed to record data from the various sensors - replacing the need to download data from several, individual instruments.

We'll largely capture the same information, including algal biomass (amounts of algae) and turbidity (water clarity) - but the visual appearance and the proficiency of the station will change.

It will consist of one central station which holds the monitoring equipment with a solar panel, several marker buoys, and four smaller buoys to mark the position of the anchor ropes.

On-going efforts to improve lake health

Additional work is underway to investigate the lake's nutrient sources, including using piezometers to examine groundwater. Our staff are also working with local farmers on immediate voluntary actions they can take to reduce the risk of nutrient loss to waterways.

Alongside that, we're developing a lake-by-lake land use risk analysis, which will include the required nutrient reductions to improve lake water quality - while our Rūnanga partners are leading work to understand the changing environment through a mātauranga lens.

Ōtūwharekai Working Group

Environment Canterbury is part of the Ōtūwharekai Working Group, which drives projects and actions to halt and reverse the degradation of Ōtūwharekai ecology and values. It coordinates science, biodiversity, land management, planning, and cultural work streams (including mahinga kai).

The Working Group is made up of Papatipu Rūnanga with connection to the area - Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga and Te Taumutu Rūnanga - as well as Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Environment Canterbury, farmers in the area, Department of Conservation, Toitū Te Whenua LINZ, Ashburton District Council, Central South Island Fish & Game​, the Ministry for the Environment, and Ministry for Primary Industries.