Strong turnout to Ōtūwharekai pop-up event

The beauty of the Ōtūwharekai/Ashburton Lakes was impossible to miss at a recent pop-up event, where people had the chance to learn more about initiatives to improve the lakes' water quality and health.

Hut-holders, farmers, and conservation groups were among those who attended. They put their questions to the groups and agencies involved with the Ōtūwharekai Working Group and the Ashburton Water Zone Committee.

Causes and actions

Most questions were centred around the causes of the lake water degradation, and whether current actions were helping improve water quality. Environment Canterbury scientists were on-hand to explain that although it's too early to see an improvement trend yet, the extra scientific data gathered is helping shape a better understanding of the issues with algae and nutrients in the lake. The team also had their monitoring gear on display, including the tools used to measure water clarity and colour.

There were also live native fish displays from Central South Island Fish & Game Council and information about stream surveys from the Department of Conservation. Ashburton District Council highlighted requirements for visitor behaviour in the area, and the Ministry for Primary Industries talked about the support they can provide to local farmers.

Forest and Bird showcased the range of voluntary pest control and biodiversity work they're carrying out in the area. Younger visitors had fun learning about human impacts on waterways and everyone enjoyed the sausage sizzle, run as a fundraiser by the local Fire and Emergency NZ crew.

On-the-ground work

The event highlighted the on-the-ground actions underway by the Ōtūwharekai Working Group (made up of Papatipu Rūnanga with connection to the area, councils, crown agencies and landowners) and other organisations to restore and enhance this special location. These actions include nutrient reductions on-farm, additional science investigations, the removal of long-drop toilets at the settlement, and biodiversity surveys.

Ōtūwharekai Working Group Co-chair Judith Earl-Goulet was thrilled to see others wanting to learn more about ways they can help.

"It’s not just about protecting water quality – but the area's wider biodiversity, including bird life. All of us have a role to play in protecting the mana of this environment," she said.

To find out more visit our Ōtūwharekai homepage.