Lake Brunner Project

This page has information on the Lake Brunner Project. It received Crown funding from the Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund from 2013 to 2016 to address historical water quality issues.

Project details

Project cost:


Crown funding:



Lake Brunner, West Coast, South Island.


West Coast Regional Council, Westland Milk Products, Ngāti Waewae.

Project purpose:

To improve the water quality of Lake Brunner through community environmental projects and farm environmental planning.

Project timeframe 2013-2016


Lake Brunner is the largest lake in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island. It is valued as an important fishery, tourist destination and recreational resource, and has special significance to Tangata Whenua. The lake and surrounding wetlands are of high ecological value, providing habitat to a number of threatened species including bittern (nationally endangered), white heron (nationally critical), crested grebe (nationally endangered), fernbird (sparse), black shag (sparse), longfin eel (gradual decline) and the little black shag (range restricted).

Dairy intensification throughout the Lake Brunner catchment has directly contributed to degraded water quality in the lake with algal growth steadily reducing water quality and clarity.

Funded interventions

Funding was used for the:

  • creation of buffer strips along waterways which act to reduce pollutants entering the lake via inflowing streams. This is achieved through a combination of fencing and planting along the stream margins.
  • development of environmental farm plans. These plans are provided to farmers as a guide for reducing nutrient run-off.

Final project update – January 2016

By the end of the project in January 2016, the following had been achieved:

  • 54 kilometres of stream fencing
  • planting of 28,910 plants
  • creation of 23 environmental farm plans.

The Trophic Level Index score for the lake is now within the target range. For information on the Trophic Level Index see Factsheet: Lake Trophic Level Index [LAWA website]

Find out more

Lake Brunner water quality [West Coast Regional Council website]