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Friends of Lake Hayes chairman Mike Hanff said the condition of the lake had been declining for 20 years but early intervention could restore it.
Mr Hanff was the final speaker on day one of an Otago Regional Council annual plan hearing.
He advocated for the flow in and out of Lake Hayes to be managed, and to curb pollution by restoring wetlands and trapping sediment.
Cr Bryan Scott asked if diluting the water with some from the Arrow River was a way to avoid "fronting up" about the quality of water going into the lake.
Mr Hanff said it was only part of the plan.
The lake had high levels of phosphorus and quite a high background level of nitrogen, he said.
WAI Wanaka, a group set up to safeguard water quality in and around the upper Clutha catchment, asked the council for $50,000 to support its work.
"Wanaka, Queenstown and Hawea are very special places. It’s vital we keep it that way," trustee Mandy Bell said.
The group would help connect the tourism sector with labour for environmental work that needed to be done.
Council chairwoman Marian Hobbs asked the trust to send an email to support its request for $50,000.
- Grant Miller