Contact Energy commits to Cromwell lake clean up

by Kim Bowden - Mar 01, 2023

Lake Dunstan's volunteer watchdogs are welcoming a new plan that will ensure the owners of the Clyde Dam work to better clean up a section of the lake.

Contact Energy's years overdue in delivering its latest required update to its action plan to manage some of the effects of its activities on the Kawarau Arm - that's the section of the lake beside the Cromwell Heritage Precinct and towards Bannockburn.

But in a statement this morning, the Otago Regional Council, the authority in charge of approving the energy company's permissions to use the waterways to run the dam, says it has now been signed-off.

The Lake Dunstan Charitable Trust hasn't been happy with the document in the past, arguing the ORC needed to do more to hold Contact Energy to account for some of the mess in the area.

Top of its list: the build up of silt fast making the arm unnavigable, swallowing popular swimming beaches, and encouraging a pile up of drift wood and growth of invasive aquatic plants.

Silt builds up around formerly floating pontoons in the Kawarau Arm of Lake Dunstan in Cromwell.

Now, the trust is welcoming what appears this time around to be a stronger plan, set to deal to driftwood and weeds in the water and on land, as well as spruce up the dirty lake edge around Cromwell's Heritage Precinct.

"The Lake Dunstan Charitable Trust trustees have lobbied relentlessly for several years to encourage Contact Energy to do more to manage the negative effects of the Clyde dam on the Kawarau Arm," says chair Duncan Faulkner.

"The revised Landscape and Visual Amenity Management Plan will create significant positive change...the trust is excited to monitor the improvements as the new plan is implemented."

Although under no formal obligation to do so, in developing the new plan Contact Energy worked with other stakeholders - the trust, iwi, and other organisations with a say in the area, like the Central Otago District Council and Land Information New Zealand.

Contact Energy's head of generation hydro Boyd Brinsdon says the company aims "to be a good neighbour" and that means "respecting others and the natural resources where we operate so that future generations can enjoy".

The ORC’s compliance manager Tami Sargeant says the actions in the revised plan are targeted at existing recreational areas along the water's edge and should result in positive outcomes for the lake, the surrounding environment and the community.

Locals can expect from Contact Energy more native plantings, management of "driftwood, terrestrial and lake weed", and a "co-design project to enhance the Old Cromwell area", the council says.

A final version of the plan was submitted by Contact Energy in December, before being formally approved by the council. The required five-year review of the document fell in 2020, so the process is behind and the new plan will need to be reviewed again as early as 2025.

A review of the Contact Energy consent condition for the Landscape and Visual Amenity Plan was initiated in August 2022. This is a separate process and is tracking well, the council says.

Main image: Driftwood accumulates at the jetty in the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, 2022.

Read more:

Contact Energy to fix 'years overdue' Lake Dunstan problems

Contact and the Clyde dam: Window to trigger consent review rapidly closing

Cromwell: The town that was sold a lake

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