Council responds to need for information on water in Sounds

03:49, Nov 19 2012

The Marlborough District Council is collecting information about the Marlborough Sounds so it can make better decisions.

Council environmental scientist Fleur Tiernan said the information would help not only the council but also fish-farming businesses and people wanting to know the state of the Sounds. The data would be publicly available and eventually published on the council website.

Council environmental science and monitoring manager Alan Johnston said the council did not previously do comprehensive water quality testing because of cost. Monitoring looked only at bacteria, to see check the safety of popular swimming spots.

Industry plans to develop new fish-farms and to convert mussel farms to fish meant people wanted more information on the state of the coastal environment so any changes could be measured, Mr Johnston said.

Better information should mean better decisions, he said.

Ms Tiernan said as well as collecting its own data, the council was working with the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (Niwa) and the Cawthron Institute, which were already doing a lot of work in the Sounds. Niwa contributed $130,000 of monitoring equipment.


Information would help build scientific models of water in the Sounds, where it went, how long it stayed and where byproducts of developments such as aquaculture could end up, she said.

The 11 sites chosen in each Sound were significant zones where water and any additives like fish-farming discharges mixed.

The council is also studying estuaries identified in a report on significant marine environments prepared jointly with the Conservation Department. It had already studied habitats at Okiwa Bay and Ngakuta Bay, at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound.

These studies had so far cost $128,000, including a $20,000 Envirolink grant and, subject to priorities, the council planned to spend $289,000 more over the next two years.