Lake Hayes spend-up

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After years of inaction, Otago Regional Council is addressing water quality problems in Queenstown’s scenic Lake Hayes.

In recent times the lake’s colour, clarity and trout population have been affected by algae bloom caused by high nutrient levels.

Early this year, it was even off limits to swimmers due to potentially toxic cyanobacteria blooms.

Now ORC, in its long-term plan approved last week, is promising to implement four initiatives in the next 12 months.

It will install a monitoring buoy in the lake to understand what drives the excessive algae bloom.

It’ll build the infrastructure to allow Arrow irrigation water to be diverted into Mill Creek to help flush nutrients out of the lake.

It has also committed to increasing water quality testing in Lake Hayes’ neighbouring Mill Stream and Hayes Creek.

And it will develop and consult on proposals for the remediation of Lake Hayes.

Friends of Lake Hayes Society secretary Richard Bowman says his group welcomes ORC’s commitments after pressing for them in recent years.

“But now we want to make sure that they actually deliver. They’ve definitely committed to it in general terms, but we have no specifics.”

His society’s also engaged with the review of the local council’s district plan, and will work with land owners in the catchment, and other bodies, to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the lake.

ORC spokesperson Sian Sutton says its long-term plan provides $40,000 for a monitoring buoy, which has been brought forward to year one.

It also pledges $100,000 to enable initial works on remediating Lake Hayes and staff time to carry out a catchment study.

“We are also working towards community consultation around further remediation options.”

That includes options for how subsequent work could be funded.

“Lake Hayes is such an iconic landmark for many residents and visitors and we’re pleased to see provision of funding for Lake Hayes initiatives.”

scoop@scene.co.nz