Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister that the Government would contribute $780,000 towards the clean-up of the Waituna Lagoon is great news.

Waituna Lagoon is an iconic Southland lagoon that is seriously degraded after decades of neglect. I have made several representations to the Environment Minister to seek support for local efforts to clean-up the lagoon, and am pleased they have resulted in this funding.

The clean up project involves a contribution from the Government’s Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund of $780,000.  This represents 50 per cent of the total project costs.  The other partners in the project are: Environment Southland, Te Ao Marama Inc., Dairy NZ, Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, Fert Research, and Southland District Council

Increasing nutrients, sediment, slime algae and phytoplankton threaten the future of the Waituna Lagoon.  Contributing to its decline is the reduction in cover of Ruppia species in the Lagoon.  Ruppia is a key species because of its importance as a habitat, food source and because of its role in regulating water quality. The decreasing water quality means the Lagoon is particularly vulnerable to an effect known as ‘lake flipping’.

The latest lake water quality survey shows the Waituna lagoon as the most polluted siginificant water body in Southland with a eutrophic index of 4.5 and deteriorating.

We need to take some real steps to prevent the ongoing pollution as well as this support from Government to help clean the Lagoon up.