The Waituna Lagoon has been opened to the sea at Walker’s Bay. This morning heavy machinery was used to dig a channel allowing the lagoon to drain into the sea.
The decision to open the lagoon was made after the water level in the lagoon had exceeded the 2-metre trigger level, with more rain forecast later in the week.
Environment Southland’s director of operations Jonathan Streat said this was an appropriate time to open the lagoon to the sea, as the high water levels are now clearly affecting surrounding farmland.
“The Lake Waituna Control Association was granted a short-term consent in 2017 to open the lagoon when water levels are high. Longer-term management of the lagoon’s nutrient and sediment levels will form part of the work being undertaken by the Whakamana te Waituna programme,” he said.
Scientists at Environment Southland are also hopeful that opening the lagoon to the sea might flush out the toxic algae, planktonic cyanobacteria, that has been present for the last few months.
The Waituna Lagoon is one of the best remaining examples of a natural coastal lagoon in New Zealand, and is unique in our region and to New Zealand.
From time to time, the lagoon has been mechanically opened to the sea, initially for fish passage, and latterly to help manage drainage for surrounding farms.
For more information about the Waituna Lagoon, visit www.waituna.org.nz.