Monitoring buoys on Lake Wanaka are one of the latest attempts to try to understand the particular conditions that could encourage the development of lake snow.
University of Otago freshwater scientist Dr Marc Schallenberg deployed sediment traps on the lake earlier this year in an attempt to get a better understanding of what causes lake snow, while the Upper Clutha Lakes Trust (UCLT) has lobbied Otago Regional Council (ORC) to bring forward the purchase of a monitoring buoy for Lake Wanaka to the 2018/19 financial year.
The ORC’s Long Term Plan currently includes plans to put monitoring buoys in Lake Wanaka in 2019/20.
UCLT has also submitted that the council approve a buoy for Lake Hawea in 2018/19.
“The Trust believes that having earlier access to monitoring information will improve the design and assessment of management decisions for the lakes and catchments and better inform the Trust’s Community Water Management Plan,” said UCLT secretary Julie Perry.
Perry said that the Trust was continuing discussions with potential funders, buoy manufacturers and parties likely to use or be associated with the buoys.
UCLT trustee Dr Mandy Bell said that the Trust wanted to be proactive rather than reactive.
“The cost and the economics are just poles apart. Should we spend a couple of hundred million dollars fixing it up in 15 to 20 years time or should we be proactive and understand better the challenges that we’ve got?” Bell said.
Dr Marc Schallenberg said that although “bits and pieces” of research had been done along the lakes over the years it would take a lot of dedicated research to build a real solid picture of how a complex system such as a lake functions.
“We don’t have good long-term data sets. We’re only starting to get some good, reliable information about the state of the lakes, and so good monitoring information is essential to understand what’s been going on, what’s the state, what’s the trend that’s been happening in the lake.
“The authorities who are supposed to be looking after these lakes need to raise their game in terms of how they’re monitoring these lakes, both in the frequency of monitoring and in the chemical methods they use,” Schallenberg said.