Environment Minister's Support for Waituna Project Sought

Monday 4 April 2011, 9:07AM
By Environment Southland


Environment Minister Nick Smith will be formally invited to visit Southland for a briefing on the response to save and restore the Waituna Lagoon.

Today Environment Southland Councillors resolved to issue the invitation, aiming to get the Government’s support and assistance for work in the lagoon and its intensively farmed catchment, in line with its involvement in projects to reverse declining water quality in Lakes Taupo and Rotorua.

Deputy Chairman Nicol Horrell said that the Council had to define what help it wanted to ask for, and to be realistic. “Money will be tight after the earthquake,” he said.

A separate invitation will also be issued to David Carter, the Minister of Agriculture, in recognition of the impact that any land management regime changes could have on farmers in the Waituna catchment.

The Council also expects to meet MPs from parties outside the Government who are taking an interest in the Waituna Lagoon, including Green Party Co-Leader Russell Norman.

Monitoring has shown that the lagoon is under extreme stress from declining water quality and an increase in nutrient-laden sediments, resulting in an increase in algae which is overwhelming the natural seagrass and threatening to “flip” the lagoon irreversibly out of its natural state.

Environment Southland has initiated a wide-ranging project to restore it to good health.