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The bach settlement at Lake Clearwater.

Key themes emerging from public feedback on the future of the lakes Camp and Clearwater include requests for more public rubbish and toilet facilities, restrictions on future development and a desire to retain a natural, pristine environment.

Bach owners and the wider community were asked what they valued about the area and their aspirations for the future of the area during consultation in February and March.

More than 150 people offered feedback. Nearly all submitters wanted Ashburton District Council to work collaboratively with landowners and other stakeholders such as DOC and Environment Canterbury (ECan) on a shared vision for the area.

A number of submitters spoke to Ashburton District councillors at hearing held last week.

Adair Bruorton said she had been coming to the Lake Clearwater/Camp area for the last 60 years and three generations of her family loved the area.

She valued the natural landscape and the fact the settlement retained the original character of it’s basic bach community. Volunteers spent hours looking after the public space and playground areas, she said.

“It has a community feel and kids can run around, explore and play safely and learn about the high country land and environment.”

Mrs Bruorton said the area’s popularity had increased and meant more people and traffic, more rubbish, more damage to tracks, and increased freedom camping numbers.

She was sad by the deterioration of water quality in the lakes and supported council’s actions to decommission long drops at all baches.

“A thriving Lake Clearwater and Lake Camp means we all look after what’s there. We don’t let it grow any further as it won’t be sustainable, and we continue to ensure that it’s a wonderful, safe area that can be enjoyed by many.”

Hutholder Ben Tothill told councillors he and his wife valued the simplicity of the village, its scale, its uniqueness, its character, and the fact it hadn’t been commercialised.

It was vitally important that the risk and challenges of the environment were carefully considered, planned and managed, including the substantial fire risk.

Also of importance was to ensure human interaction at the lakes carried on without making an adverse impact on the environment.

Mr Tothill also suggested engaging closely with the local farmer to share scientific study in order to work to resolve the issues of water quality in Lake Clearwater.

Keith Gunn from Save the Rivers Mid Canterbury said the 2021 ban on Lake Clearwater activities after the discovery of toxic algae served as a major wake up call.

It was short sighted to limit a plan to just the two lakes because hut holders and the public visited other Ashburton Lakes and all of the lakes impacted on the values of the area.

His group wanted a recognised group to co-ordinate and take responsibility for the implementation of a plan to the restoration of water quality in the Ashburton lakes, he said.

There was concern different interest groups, like council, DOC and ECan, appeared to have their own patches.

He said the main contributing factor to the decline in water quality was a result of nutrient run-off from agricultural land.

The Lake Clearwater village started out in the 1920s as a few baches for fishermen and picnickers.

There are now 180 dwellings, as well as a camping ground and public toilets.

Council will draft a development plan then consult with key stakeholders before adoption later this year.

-By Mick Jensenla