Protecting our waterways from introduced threats like weeds, algae and pest fish was identified as high priority for local agencies at a recent freshwater biosecurity meeting.
The group, including the Waikato Regional Council, the Tuwharetoa Māori Trust Board, Taupō Harbourmaster, Taupō District Council and DOC, recognised signage in the district needed a facelift.
The new designs include existing and potential weeds and pests, as well as how waterway users can use 'Check, Clean, Dry' methods to stop the spread of freshwater threats.
“As national and local attention increases around the health of our lakes and rivers, so does the public’s enthusiasm to take action”, says DOC freshwater ranger Brenda Lawson. “Knowing the risks, promoting, and using 'Check, Clean, Dry' is the best way to protect their special places”.
Getting the new signs erected has been a the result of collaboration between the groups involved. All agreed to work together, combining budgets and expertise.
Waikato River signs were modified to fit the Taupō area and then produced by Waikato Regional Council. Locations were checked by Taupō District Council - and as the land around the lake belonged to all the groups, there was no problem approving sites.
Painting the posts was an ideal project for ‘People in Prison' - a Tongariro Prison initiative where prisoners work on community projects.
“It was a perfect fit to ask the prison to ‘join the team’ to protect our waterways”, says Brenda. "Especially as the prison is located in the Tūwharetoa rōhe, and has worked over a significant period of time for the conservation of their waterways and land”.
“Most of the signs are already up at boat ramps around the Taupō area, so make sure you stop and have a good look so you can help protect your favourite playground", she said.
Brenda says many people are aware of didymo, but there are other invasive species already existing in Taupō and nearby locations.
Hornwort is an example of a nasty weed which has been present in Taupō for many years. Blocking waterways, hindering fishing, and creating a nuisance when it washes up on beaches are just some of its effects. Iconic lakes such as Otamangakau and Waikaremoana would be severely affected if this weed spread there.
There is also the possibility of new foreign species arriving in our region. Lake Snow is a sticky slime algae creating problems with fishing lines and water filters in Lake Wanaka. Scientists are currently testing to see whether it is foreign, or a native blooming because of environmental influences.
Lake Waikaremoana has also tested positive for Lake Snow. Fortunately, 'Check, Clean, Dry' is also effective on this algae.