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"...health of Virginia Lake currently is disgraceful...."
Published: 01 May 2018
Author: Ray Hutchison St Johns Hill


Dear Sir,

I wish to make a few comments concerningVirginiaLake.

As a Wanganui icon and a place that is regularly visited by many tourists passing through Wanganui, the health of the lake currently is disgraceful and is a poor reflection on our city.

Something needs to be done about it immediately and I invite all Councillors to go up and have a look.

Viewing from the boardwalk a thick layer of unsightly blue/green, smelly algal scum covers that southern end of the lake and additionally the boardwalk itself is covered by much disgusting pigeon droppings from the birds living in the Nikau palms overhead.

I have estimated the pigeon population to be about 60 and a cull is now needed. 

When wet this boardwalk is dangerously slippery and although workers regularly water-blast the decking, this is insufficient. 

Token efforts seem to have been made by council to what appears to been a trial in placing narrow horizontal plates across the boardwalk deck short distances from both ends. 

These strips have been there for at least 12 months and nothing further seems to be forthcoming and I fear that joggers and walkers may suffer injury in future when conditions are wet.

I suggest that some form of web matting track either rubber or metal be placed right along the full extent of  the board-walk. 

The lake itself needs some form of circulation and although I know that algal growth is multi-factorial and a perplexing problem I cannot understand why the solar stirrer and the wave generator and the ultrasonic machinery were removed some time ago, perhaps Council Reserve staff may wish to comment. 

One of the main causes of algal growth is the lack of oxygen and some stirring of the ecosystem particularly to depth could help ameliorate the algal problem as well as would  the curbing of some errant discharges from the overflow of Rotokawau. 

I walk round the lake every morning  and live in its vicinity - it really is  a lovely place, but I am much saddened by its deteriorating condition over the past few years. 

I am not convinced that the algal blooms that this lake regularly suffers from in summer is entirely due to "natural phenomena" as some people may may say, but leaving it in its present state would be quite frankly disappointing.

COUNCIL PRESS RELEASE - 1st May 2018

Sarah Pomeroy, Communications & Marketing Manager at the WHANGANUI DISTRICT COUNCIL, distributed this Press Release today:

Whanganui District Council says an unsightly algal bloom evident at Rotokawau Virginia Lake is likely to resolve naturally as we
 move into the winter season.

Chief Executive Kym Fell says the Council has been contacted by several residents wanting to know why the heavy green algae is present and what can be done about it.

Mr Fell says, “Algal blooms are increasingly common throughout New Zealand, especially during the warmer seasons. We expect the algae that has accumulated at Rotokawau Virginia Lake this year is likely to disappear with cooler weather and lower light levels, along with more rain which will help to flush out the lake area.

“The algae has been tested and so far has proved to be a type called Microcystis wesenbergii. It is quite buoyant so in calm conditions it easily forms thick surface scum which looks unpleasant and can smell bad near the lake edge. 

Mr Fell says, “Fortunately this particular type of algae is non-toxic. In the past we’ve had Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae in the lake – which can be toxic and has a very pungent smell, but so far we’re not seeing that type. 

Whanganui District Council has previously submerged ultrasonic units in the lake which can be effective in breaking down algae, but Mr Fell says the current units are not functioning properly and will soon be replaced.

“We are doing everything we can, but ultimately we are dealing with a natural process, which is exacerbated by warmer temperatures. It happens every year at Rotokawau Virginia Lake and throughout the country.”

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