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Detailed scientific work on the quality of water flowing into Lake Wanaka from the Wanaka township will begin this month.
University of Otago masters student Victoria Grant and ecologist Melanie Vermeulen will look at the quality and effects of stormwater runoff.
The study, costing $50,000, will be funded from the Upper Clutha Lakes Trust Wanaka Water Project - initiated because of concern over the state of Lake of Wanaka - and the Otago Fish & Game Council.
The project has $385,000 of government funding available in addition to money raised from the community and from grants.
Manager Megan Williams said on Tuesday the water quality research would cost about $50,000 but was ''urgently needed'' to help with water management decisions.
''Wherever you look there are new subdivisions and houses being built.
''More earthworks, houses, cars and hard surfaces mean a major increase in stormwater runoff which can carry a host of contaminants.''
The contaminants could include heavy metals, animal faeces, pathogens, hydrocarbons, garden fertilisers, weed killer, plastic, paints, dyes and sealants, she said.
''The problem is we don't have a detailed record of what is going into our creeks, stormwater drains and eventually into lakes and rivers or any understanding of the impact of the contaminants which wind up in Lake Wanaka or the Clutha River.
''We need to know so we can make positive changes.''
The research will include analysis of invertebrates and water from 13 sites along stormwater drains and streams including Bullock Creek, Stoney Creek and the water race drain in the Meadowstone area.
Fish survey data will also be analysed.
The research is due to be completed by the end of the year.