Clutha group to begin projects in March

The Upper Clutha Water Group will begin its formal work programme in late March next year, after receiving $385,000 of funding from the Government's Freshwater Improvement Fund in September.

Under the terms of the agreement with the fund, the group will undertake three key projects. These initiatives are the development of a community-supported water management plan, riparian planting, and applied research on urban run-off effects.

The group said the planting would be undertaken by Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust, a Wanaka-based volunteer

Group spokesperson Mandy Bell said the projects represented ''an exciting opportunity to be proactive with water management so future generations can continue to enjoy our lakes and waterways''.

She stressed the importance of getting a high level of community involvement which would be an essential component in working out how to fix water issues and prevent any decline in water quality and ecosystem function.

''Our local communities include many people who have a passion for the local environment and a wide range of skills to put into community projects and citizen science. An important part of the Upper Clutha Water Group's success to date is based on connecting a wide range of water-related stakeholders, working together to understand water needs from every perspective.''

The group has recently gained three new grants. The Otago Regional Council will provide $22,500 from its Environmental Enhancement Fund to help the group engage with the community and raise awareness of issues relevant to the future management of alpine lakes and waterways; the Queenstown Lakes District Council has provided an additional $22,500 to assist with data collection and analysis; and the Sargood Bequest trust approved an interim grant of $10,000 to set up a website for the group and assist with establishment activities.

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