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Henley Trust wades through issues

About 400 eels had to be rescued after water in the Henley Lake wetlands area dried up. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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The Henley Trust says the lake has never looked better after rain and the removal of a blocked culvert which it claims has limited water feeding in from the Ruamahanga River for the past two years.

However, the Masterton District Council said it was not a “determining factor” of the lake’s water levels.

Before: The blockage was estimated to obstruct about 80 per cent of the culvert.

Trust chairman Tom Ward said getting water into Henley Lake had been an issue for “some time” but thought the blocked culvert was a contributing factor.

He said the trust first raised issues about the culvert, which was estimated to be about 80 per cent blocked, with the council two years ago and the lack of action had been frustrating.

It wasn’t until late February this year that the culvert was removed by council staff.

“They had a digger going up to tidy up the channel, and I asked them to dig up the culvert,” Ward said

The blocked culvert had significant implications for the health of the lake and those who frequent it, he said.

After: The blockage was removed, increasing the flow of water to Henley Lake.

“We haven’t been able to get the available amount [of water from the Ruamahanga River] that was allocated to us for at least two years.

“We are sure that’s why we’ve been having algal bloom problems. That’s why we have problems with the wetlands drying out.”

Before the downpours, Ward and other volunteers rescued about 400 eels from a dried-out wetland at the lake.

Deputy chairman Ross Cottle shared Ward’s frustrations and said clearing the blocked culvert had been a “major breakthrough”.

“The lake is in really good shape. We are getting water into the wetland areas.

“It’s absolutely imperative for the health of the lake and animals which live in it.”

A spokesperson for Masterton District Council said the level of water in the lake was not determined by the blockage of the culvert.

“Blockage of the culvert may have an effect on the rate of flow but is not the determining factor on whether or not the level of Henley Lake is low. This is affected by the level of the Ruamahanga River.”

They said the lake flow was constantly assessed, with daily text messages sent to a staff member indicating the flow rate.

“The staff member also makes a visual inspection of the intake and the culvert every two days or so.”

During one of these inspections in February during a time of low river flow, it was determined that a “fresh” [period of higher flow] had washed debris into the culvert which was later cleared in March.

The concrete culvert had since been replaced with a polypropylene pipe.

The council spokesperson said consultation about the future of Henley Lake was open through submissions to the proposed annual plan.


  1. M.D.C. – as a former resident I implore you to keep investing in it for it is an ecological, recreational and environmental feature enhancing your town! We visited and appreciated its growth and development in our camper van when visiting last year. A lovely feature indeed. Bob Pringle – Geraldine

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