Lake snow source 'from outside NZ'

Fishermen first reported algae in Lake Wanaka in the early 2000s.
Fishermen first reported algae in Lake Wanaka in the early 2000s.
The algae responsible for creating lake snow, which has taken hold in Lake Wanaka, is highly likely to be from outside NZ.

Some fishermen say the lake snow is clogging their gear and preventing them from fishing in...
Some fishermen say the lake snow is clogging their gear and preventing them from fishing in certain parts of the lake.
The findings are the result of research commissioned by the Otago Regional Council into a problem which some people say has the potential to devastate the iconic lake.

Genetic testing of lake snow samples by the report author, Landcare Research, found that specimens from Lake Youngs in Washington state (US) and all NZ lakes were identical in more than one respect.

In a statement today the ORC said the findings would give impetus to multi-agency efforts (ORC, Environment Canterbury, Environment Southland, and the Ministry for Primary Industries) to identify appropriate ways to manage lake snow in the southern alpine lakes and elsewhere in NZ.

ORC technical committee chairman Andrew Noone said a more intensive research programme could now get under way to understand the diatom and work towards potential solutions to minimising the effects of lake snow, which is a nuisance because of its ability to foul boat motors and clog water filters.

“We know that lake snow has been causing ongoing concerns across New Zealand, and particularly that there are frustrations about this in our own backyard in affected areas in the Otago region.”
“Whilst lake snow is clearly a nuisance to lake users, I want to be very clear that water quality in our lakes is excellent and this species is not harmful to human health,” Cr Noone said.

The research report was tabled at ORC’s technical committee meeting today, where councillors stressed that identifying ways to manage lake snow in the southern alpine lakes will require a continuing collaborative effort, due to it being evident in other lakes around New Zealand and the world.

‘We have been liaising with our key stakeholders on this report and the issue more generally since 2016.  Our council feels strongly that this is an issue that needs to be tackled nationally with our key partners - our CEO Mr Bodeker has been liaising with MPI on the report findings,” Cr Noone said.

“We have also scheduled a community meeting in directly affected communities, where residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and receive a presentation about the research report,” he said.

This public information session will take place at 7pm on Wednesday, October 4 at the Lake Wanaka Centre auditorium.

The research report is the first in a series of studies designed to gain a greater understanding of Lindavia intermedia, the algae responsible for creating lake snow.

 

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