Overlooking Waituna Lagoon

Waituna Catchment Nutrient Reduction Project

Research & Monitoring – With Descriptor

About the project

Waituna Lagoon is a highly valued cultural and ecological coastal lake that is at risk of contamination (sediment and nutrients) from land use practices within the catchment.  

In 2014 a technical advisory group recommended that the nutrient load needs to be reduced by 50 percent to ensure the long-term ecological health of the lagoon. There are now several organisations, including Living Water, working towards a solution for the lagoon as part of the Whakamana te Waituna Project.

One of the over-arching objectives of the project is to reduce the rate of sediment and nutrients originating from on-farm and off-farm activities. Living Water is contributing by:

  • Supporting all Fonterra farmers in the catchment to develop Farm Environment Plans
  • Ensure the right tools will be used in the right place to solve the relevant problem. To do this we have contracted Aqualinc, Boffa Miskell, GHD and The Agribusiness Group to work together to review all the existing science in the catchment, including our peak run off control structure trial, and identify a suite of on-farm and off-farm options to reduce contaminants entering the lagoon.
Nicki Atkinson

Nicki Atkinson

Impact & Partnerships Manager
Cain Duncan

Cain Duncan

Otago/Southland Sustainable Dairying Manager for Fonterra


  • Tangible options to better understand what the problems are and the potential catchment-scale actions needed to resolve them
  • Robust data that allows the Whakamana te Waituna Trust partners to discuss the situation and potential solutions with the community so that collectively, informed decisions can be made on where and what to do to achieve the biggest impact for the health of the lagoon


  • 35 of 47 Farm Environment Plans completed
  • On-farm planting is in progress on several dairy farms in the catchment 
  • The Aqualinc report has been completed. From this piece of work we have identified that building a large constructed wetland in Waituna Creek will reduce nutrient loads by up to 20%. We are currently working to identify and secure land to be able to progress this work.
  • Peak runoff control structures have been built and a monitoring programme is in place to assess their ability to trap sediment and reduce contaminant loss.

What’s next?

  • Identifying land to purchase for large constructed wetland
  • Farm Environment Plans to be completed
  • Trial of Peak Runoff Control structures to be completed

Contaminant Load Reduction Plan Report