$260,000 for better lagoon ecology

Avid bird-watcher Nick Beckwith, of Warrington, admires the view at Tomahawk Lagoon and imagines...
Avid bird-watcher Nick Beckwith, of Warrington, admires the view at Tomahawk Lagoon and imagines how it might change as a result of new funding from the Otago Regional Council. PHOTO: JOHN LEWIS
Tomahawk Lagoon may soon ride a wave of biodiversity and sustainability success after the Otago Regional Council voted to pump $260,000 into a new catchment group, an ecological assessment of the catchment, and a permanent water quality monitoring site.

The plans were adopted as part of the Otago Regional Council’s long-term plan (LTP) yesterday.

ORC biosecurity and rural liaison manager Andrea Howard said council would hold a key stakeholder meeting on Monday, June 28, to discuss how to progress the three projects.

"Through this, we will also discuss timeframes for implementation of the projects."

She said the council’s 2021-31 LTP contained funding for project implementation of $100,000 for year 2 (2022-23), and $80,000 for years 3 (2023-24) and 4 (2024-25).

"Actions that can be delivered without additional project funding (such as supporting the formation of a catchment group) can be progressed in year 1 (2021-22), should the community wish to further this option."

The plans aim to improve the water quality of the lagoon.

Potentially toxic algae is regularly found in the waterway, restricting people and their pets from using it.

Earlier this year, Otago Regional Council staff created a draft management plan for the lagoon, which included the whole catchment.

Within the draft, there was a list of 19 potential projects that could be delivered by the council or other key stakeholders.

The community was invited to see the draft plan at a public drop-in session in April and provide feedback.

People were asked to pick the three projects they thought were most important, or suggest any other key things that might have been missed.

Through that process, the ORC prioritised the projects in order of importance for the community.

The range of potential projects included education and awareness, native plant restoration, fencing, supporting the formation of a catchment group, pest and weed programmes, and reducing the frequency of algal blooms.

Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope was delighted with the funding.

"It’s fantastic. It’s been a long time coming.

"It’s been five or six years of lobbying and hard work, but I think finally we’re starting to see some progress.

"I’m very excited for the community and very excited for the area, because it opens up a whole lot of possibilities in terms of improving the health, the biodiversity, and the potential for cleaner water in that area.

"From my point of view, as an ecologist, it’s wonderful. From a board perspective, it’s even better."


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