More funding, more research

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Wanaka Sun (page 1) 2 March 2017 by Danielle Butler - email: newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz The need for more research and funding was the take-home message from a lake quality meeting which packed out the Lake Wanaka Centre on Friday (February 24). The meeting, Saving Our Alpine Lakes - What Can We Do?, sponsored by the Wanaka branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand, brought in more than 200 people to hear presentations from scientists and local body representatives about the issue of lake snow in lakes Wanaka, Hawea and Wakatipu. [caption id="attachment_6111" align="alignright" width="300"] TEXT us on 022 078 6778[/caption] Branch president Dr Max Shepherd said that the turn-out showed how important the issue was to the community. Research Fellow in Freshwater Science at the University of Otago Dr Marc Schallenberg, who has lobbied for funding for research into lake snow, said that investing in a research programme now to stop the issue would be a drop in the bucket compared with trying to restore the lakes’ ecosystems once they had gone bad. David Hamilton, Professor of Lakes Management and Restoration at the University of Waikato reinforced the need for action now, citing the extreme measures taken to decrease Lake Rotorua’s cyanobacteria levels in the form of a $10 million wall. Dr Schallenberg said that the presence of the lake snow, produced by a microscopic algae cyclotella bodanica, could be down to increased land development, land use, agricultural intensification or increasing lake temperatures, but without more robust information it was impossible to tell. “I am pointing my finger here at the Otago Regional Council (ORC). This is a complex problem and we need very complex samples to understand the links between pressures and responses,” Dr Schallenberg said. “Changes are happening in these lakes. Samples collected from outflow monitoring that has been done so far is inadequate to analyse trends. We need high quality monitoring data that would allow trends to be collected and very sensitive changes to be detected.” [caption id="attachment_3562" align="alignleft" width="195"]Click for Wanaka Pharmacy Click for Wanaka Pharmacy[/caption] “With better lake monitoring it is possible to collect fantastic data and these lakes are worth monitoring.” ORC’s manager resource science Dr Dean Olsen said that any monitoring programme had to be sustainable. “There is no point starting up a big whizz bang monitoring programme for the government to take it away because we cannot afford to keep it,” Dr Olsen said. He added that a three-year programme launched in September 2016 would allow data to be collected monthly from Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, Roys Bay and Glendhu Bay. The council would also be looking at real-time monitoring with the aim of implementing it in mid-2018 to try to understand the origin of lake snow, he said. ORC Councillor for the Dunstan Ward Michael Laws, who was not present at the meeting, has suggested that the ORC also create and fund an academic Chair in Lakes and Rivers at the University of Otago to encourage research into Otago’s lakes and riverways. Panel representatives also included QLDC chief engineer Ulrich Glasner, Department of Conservation regional conservator Mike Tubbs, senior portfolio manager for biosecurity at Land Information NZ David Mole, Fish and Game Otago chief executive Niall Watson, chairman of Guardians of Lake Wanaka Dr Don Robertson, manager of freshwater implementation for the Ministry of Environment Roger Bannister and Jeff Donaldson Ministry for Primary Industries’ Freshwater Biosecurity Partnership. When asked by a member of the audience, Dr Schallenberg said that research could cost up to $1.5 million per year, with co-funding and increasing rates suggested by the panel and the audience. Dr Shepherd rounded off the meeting by saying that he hoped both the government and the public would come to the party with funding. Cover image: Lake Wanaka - Nikki Heath/Wanaka Sun Click to read the print edition of the Wanaka Sun online... Wanaka Sun | 2 - 8 Mar 2017 | Edition 807

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