Applied Research

WAI Wānaka hosted an urban stormwater workshop in August 2018 to connect experts and the community. The workshop attendees agreed the following research priorities for urban stormwater runoff into Roys Bay, Wānaka:

  1. Measure the quality, quantity and variability of runoff generated by urban areas in Wānaka.
  2. Track the movement and processing of urban runoff through Lake Wānaka, using analysis of sediments, trace metals, pathogens, nutrients and organic compounds as well as introduced tracers.
  3. Assess the impacts of urban runoff on lake ecosystem health by comparing ecosystem health in impacted and non-impacted areas. Lake ecosystem health biomonitoring protocols could be developed.

Following the workshop, the Wānaka Water Project granted $15,000 each to two University of Otago students (one Masters student – Victoria Grant and one working through Wildland Consultants – Melanie Vermeulen).  A third UoO Masters project studying Lake Wānaka macro-invertebrates proceeded alongside the two funded projects. WAI Wānaka, Friends of Bullock Creek and community volunteers have assisted the students with water sampling and provided other support, including accommodation in Wānaka.

Melanie Vermeulen has a Bachelor of Science majoring in ecology. Melanie’s project, ‘Understanding land use effects on the health of Wānaka’s urban streams and Lake Wānaka’  focusses on Bullock Creek, Stoney Creek and the Water Race Drain.  Melanie’s research was also supported by Otago Fish and Game. View full report here. (Published June 2020)


(Melanie Vermuelen at work in Bullock Creek  |  Stoney Creek Drain)

Victoria Grant’s research project titled: Stormwater monitoring and research in the Queenstown Lakes District: Wanaka, New Zealand, forms part of her MSc at Otago University’s Geography Department. Victoria’s project was designed to complement earlier citizen science work carried out by Touchstone and community volunteers. The research focussed on contaminant concentrations in various waterways and analysed the composition of stormwater runoff generated by urban areas in Wānaka.


The results from both research projects will be presented to the Upper Clutha community during 2020.

The Wānaka Water Project will be supporting further scientific study of risks to rivers, streams, wetlands, aquifers and lakes in the Upper Clutha.

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