ORC holding community drop-in session to prioritise Tomahawk Lagoon biodiversity and water quality projects

Media Release - 23 April 2021

The drop-in session will run between 3pm and 7:30pm next Thursday, 29 April.

In 2017 and 2018, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) worked with the Tomahawk Lagoon community to scope lake restoration works for the lagoon because its water quality was found to be degrading. During that engagement period, goals, values and potential projects were identified.

ORC has since developed a Draft Tomahawk Lagoon Outline Management Plan with a high-level account of the issues, objectives, and potential projects to improve water quality and biodiversity at the lagoon through community action.

Further engagement with the community and key stakeholders is now required to identify which projects should be prioritised. $260,000 is earmarked in ORC’s draft Long-term Plan – currently out for consultation – to support these projects in years 2, 3 and 4 of the Plan.

Project Delivery Specialist Libby Caldwell said community input at this stage would help to plan and prioritise catchment management at the lagoon.

“There’s a lot of existing knowledge, skill and passion in the community around Tomahawk Lagoon, and ORC is keen to support and facilitate projects to make a positive impact in the area. We’d really like to hear from people about what are the most important projects to tackle first, and about people’s willingness to get involved.

“If there are any issues or opportunities we haven’t thought of, we’d love to hear about those as well,” Ms Caldwell said.

Anyone can speak to ORC representatives at the drop-in session next week, or they can send in their thoughts through the Council’s YourSay platform until 7 May, at https://yoursay.orc.govt.nz/tomahawklagoon.

A list of the potential projects being considered for funding, subject to the Long-term Plan, is included below.


Potential projects:

Ecological Assessment
Investigate the balance between the needs of human interaction with the lagoon and wildlife (hydrological function, ecology, wildlife, walking tracks, flood hazard).

Water Quality Data
Have a permanent water quality monitoring site installed to establish baseline data and ensure mahika kai safety.

Sediment management around the outlet to ensure that there is flushing and better flow of water in and out of the lagoon.

Citizen science
Support ongoing water quality monitoring programme as a way to generate data for the catchment and as an important community engagement tool.

Education and awareness
Engaging, educating and inspiring the local community to support this action plan. This area is to be a source of learning for local schools. Development of resources to assist with this engagement and education.

Pest and weed programme
Support and provide resources to assist neighbours to form groups to tackle weed and pest species in a combined and aligned effort. The aim is to control predators of birds and to minimise impacts on the native forest in the area and to control weeds where fast growing exotic species out compete natives.

Fencing project to exclude stock from waterways
Support for landowners to exclude stock from waterways to protect waterways.

Native plant restoration
Support, advice and resources provided to aid landowners with riparian planting projects to restore the ecosystem

Research which riparian plants will be most effective
Leverage off relationships with university/schools

Community Planting Events
Community planting days and events where people can come together to help restore the lagoon and its catchment.

Catchment group formed and supported
Joining of agencies and the community. Establish a ‘Friends of Tomahawk Lagoon’ with members of the community and stakeholder representatives

Recreation (boardwalk, walkway, boat ramps)
Identify opportunities with DoC and private landowners for sections surrounding the lagoon to be restored and developed for public access.

Support nurseries run by Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust or Tomahawk Smaills Beach Care Trust
To provide locally grown plants for planting within the catchment.

Study of flora and fauna present in this area
Why we should protect the area.

Algae removal
Use technology to reduce the frequency of algal blooms in the lagoon and enhance mahika kai and recreational opportunities. Investigate floating wetlands.

Sediment removal around weir (top lagoon)
Remove sediment from around weir to improve water quality by increasing the turnover of water between upper and lower lagoons. Upgrade weir.

Stormwater in urban areas drains to the sea
Need to help educate the public and developers about stormwater.

Storytelling exercises
What did the catchment look like historically and how was it used. Use visuals and tie this into the ecological assessment. Stories from mana whenua.

Pest fish in the lagoon
Investigate the impacts environmentally vs recreationally.

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