More water monitoring

The Otago Regional Council plans to spend about $35 million over 10 years on increasing freshwater monitoring to help it achieve new clean-water targets.

Submissions on the council’s long-term plan close on May 11.

The big-ticket proposal to increase water monitoring  includes 10 new sites, bringing the total to 75.

This would cost $3 million next year and about $35 million over the next 10 years.

The council says this will give it a better idea of the ecological health of the region’s freshwater sources.

The proposal includes introducing monitoring buoys in Lakes Hayes, Wanaka and Wakatipu and starting boat-based monitoring in those lakes as well as Lake Hawea.

The council would also expand the scope of its monitoring programme to include wetlands and coastal waters.

Regional council resource science manager Dean Olsen said the increased monitoring was required under the Government’s clean water targets.

Lakes Hawea, Wakatipu, Hayes and Wanaka were at present  monitored only three years out of every 10, he said.

In the proposed long-term plan they would be monitored every month, he said.

"This will mean that we should detect any changes in these lakes more quickly and are going to be in a stronger position to report on the state of these lakes."

University of Otago chemistry professor Keith Hunter said if the council wanted to clean up waterways, it was important measures were evidence-based.

"There is really no alternative to monitoring in order to gauge the scale of the problem and to target rivers that most need attention."

While 75 sites is the preferred staff option, the public can also support an increase to 90 sites, or  monitoring not changing.

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