Evidence-based lake management project underway in Otago

Over the past few years, there have been concerns raised by the public about the management and strategy of our lakes within the Otago region. There’s a reason we’re known as the Southern Lakes region, with over 75 named lakes in Otago (not to mention many smaller ponds, dams, and tarns that take that number to 7,000+) that are important not only for our tourism and energy industries, but also the life of our communities. Concerns have been raised about the increase in human activity on the lakes in recent decades, without any concrete knowledge of the impact it’s having. Alongside this is the recognition that managing the diverse range of lakes in the region is complex, with multiple agencies involved and a wide variety of issues and pressures. 

The Otago Regional Council project has been won by local company Landpro Limited which has already begun work on it, since the day it was awarded. The final project report will be used by Council to determine whether there is a need for a new Otago Lakes Strategy or if there are other opportunities for initiatives that will enhance management of lakes within the region. 

Landpro’s Planning and Environmental team will do a complete stock take of all 75 named lakes and other small waterways in the region. From there, they will categorize the lakes into management subsets before investigating and recording the management frameworks currently in place, confirming the value communities place on lakes across Otago, and identifying any gaps in our current knowledge. This information will be used to inform Council about the next steps toward the employing the most effective management and strategy options. 

“Being involved in a project so critical to the future of our region is super important to us as a local environmental consultancy company. We run offices and hubs in Cromwell, Wanaka and Dunedin and we’re always excited to be involved at a community level, speaking to different stakeholders about their concerns and liaising with the council to seek strong practical outcomes” says Landpro CEO Jason Harvey-Wills. 

Landpro Planning Manager & Project Leader Claire Perkins adds: “Our team here at Landpro have previously completed the Upper Clutha Community Catchment Plan for Wai Wānaka, so we come into this project with some great existing data to get us started and help push the project forward quickly for its fast production turnaround timeframe”. 

James Adams, Otago Regional Council’s Policy and Project Manager, says “It has been great to get this project moving so quickly, especially with its tight timeframes, and it’s a bonus also that we’re able to engage a local consultancy with such a strong track record and understanding in this space”.  

More information to come as the project evolves.