New cows and grey sludge

Lake Ellesmere is more polluted than ever

As we all know, Lake Ellesmere near Christchurch is heavily polluted by farm run-off, cow/cattle grazing and probably other activities I do not know about. But the state I saw it on Saturday, 12 September 2015, when cycling on the Little River Rail Trail was shocking.

Disgusting grey sludge lines the shores of Lake Ellesmere.

I cycle there regularly and have never seen such a grey mess near the shores. And I had thought, the lake would not deteriorate any further as only one farmer is still allowed to have cows on his land, thanks to a shonky deal brokered by the former government ministers Kate Wilkinson and David Carter. Ngai Tahu and others made big plans to clean up the lake.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) had investigated three years ago after I had complained about the farmer's cows standing in the lake. See photos and text from 2012 here: Then, ECan let me know that the land would be destocked, the farm sold and the new owners informed about the rules and expectations regarding the environment.

I wonder what has become of this, as I photographed cows/cattle standing on the edge of the lake again - and the whole scenery enhanced by the farmer burning huge piles of trees. Clean and green New Zealand ;-)

Although it was quite a chilly day, there were already zillions of those unbearable lakeflies making life miserable, huge swarms in the air, as many as never seen before, and this is just after winter. There were so many that I didn't succeed to zoom in the horizon without black spots (lakeflies) appearing in my photos. I wonder how this infestation with lakeflies will be in the warmer seasons - and if it is made worse by the catastrophic state of the lake.

Zooming in: too many lakeflies to get a spot-free photo.

No helicopters, no birds, no dragonflies - but the lakeflies of Lake Ellesmere.

The shores of Lake Ellesmere are infested with lakeflies. It is nearly impossible to cycle there without covering nose, mouth and ears, and of, course, it is absolutely impossible to do it without wearing glasses or sunglasses.