The end is nigh for our lakes

Posted 04/01/2019

Newsroom website - Opinion

Queenstown and Wanaka's lakes are New Zealand’s poster children.

The appearance belies the reality - our Southern-Lakes waterways are in danger and no-one is talking loudly enough about it. It’s not bad all the time, and for some, that’s enough leeway to ignore the problem.

There’s a map, on the Ministry of the Environment’s webpage that shows the real-time, most recently recorded water quality for every large lake and river in the country. The colour coding goes from red being ‘poor’ to blue being ‘excellent’. If you look closely enough there’s a trend, the red dots are creeping their way upstream, multiplying, coming ever-closer to the source. Our waterways are dying.

Water quality is a weathervane, it signals changes on the horizon. Those changes are occurring at a rapid rate. The Southern-Lakes is home to New Zealand’s fastest growing population, increasing annually at around 8% - a lot when compared with Auckland’s 2%. We have over three million visitors a year, and that number is multiplying with airport expansions and draft tourism strategies tabled that forecast five million visitors in the not too distant future. Our water quality is in danger across the district - not only big bodies of water under regional council control but also drinking water and storm water under local district council control. The infrastructure is under too much pressure - from development runoff, storm water provisions, sewage treatment and other, smaller, contributing factors.

Read the full article here.