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Lake Waikare

Lake Waikare is the largest lake in the lower Waikato catchment, and is located southeast of Te Kauwhata. The lakebed was transferred to Waikato-Tainui through the Waikato River Settlement Act. This is a shallow lake in a mostly pastoral catchment, with increased nutrients, sediments, abundant pest fish and regular and long-lasting algae blooms.

The lake has extremely high levels of sediment and nutrients, and has been devegetated since the late 1970s. An algal bloom, caused by non-toxic microscopic algae Monoraphidium, reached considerable levels in June 2014, turning the water a characteristic shade of orange, and has been a regular occurrence ever since. Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms have also become abundant in recent years. The lake acts as an important flood storage reservoir for the Lower Waikato Waipā Flood Control Scheme, discharging to the Whangamarino River and, in turn, the Waikato River. Flood protection works have decreased the average lake level by around 1 m, and reduced the extent of lake level fluctuation, which resulted in loss of around 840 ha of wetlands.

Lake Waikare’s condition is a result of modifications associated with the flood scheme, point source discharges, non-point source agricultural discharges, and invasion by plant and animal pests. These issues occur at a large scale and combine to create a difficult restoration scenario. In 2007, the Lake Waikare Steering Group assessed management options to improve the condition of the lake. Since then, a number of agencies and stakeholder have undertaken initiatives to fence and restore the margins of the lake and and improve wetland habitats. Due to high densities of koi carp, rudd and catfish, pest fish removal methods have been the focus of recent research and management initiatives. Together with other agencies and stakeholders, Waikato Regional Council has installed a pest fish trap at the outlet of Lake Waikare. The trap has been very successful, and by 2015 had removed around 35 tonnes of pest fish. Trapped pest fish are turned into fertiliser. Lake Waikare is identified as a priority 1 waterbody for stock exclusion in the Waikato Regional Plan, but is not yet fully fenced. Up to 20 km of fencing may be required to fully protect the lake margins from stock.

Lake Summary
  • Lake size
  • Maximum depth
  • Catchment size
  • Mixing pattern
  • Geomorphic type
Scientific data for this lake

This dashboard shows information on the data collected by the regional councils and unitary authorities for two lake water quality and ecological condition measurements. LakeSPI (Lake Submerged Plant Indicators) and TLI (Trophic Level Index).  Select an indicator to see the historical monitoring data.

  • Water Quality

    Trophic Level Index (TLI)

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    This measure is the Trophic Level Index (TLI). The TLI indicates the life supporting capacity of a lake and is based on four water quality indicators.

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    Trophic Level Index (TLI) history for this lake

    Trophic Level Indicator (TLI) which measures four parameters: water clarity, chlorophyll content, total phosphorus and total nitrogen. From these parameters a TLI value is calculated. In cases where water clarity data is missing a three parameter TLI is calculated. The higher the value, the greater the nutrients and fertility of the water which encourages growth, including algal blooms. As a rule, higher TLI scores mean poorer water quality. View a factsheet on TLI

    TLI history for Lake Waikare

    What do the icons mean?

    Very good water quality. Trophic Level Index of 0-2. Microtrophic lake conditions.
    Good water quality. Trophic Level Index of 2-3. Oligotrophic lake conditions.
    Average water quality. Trophic Level Index of 3-4. Mesotrophic lake conditions.
    Poor water quality. Trophic Level Index of 4-5. Eutrophic lake conditions.
    Very poor water quality. Trophic Level Index of greater than 5. Supertrophic lake conditions.
    No data available.
    TLI history for Lake Waikare data table
    Year TLI Score
    Year TLI Score
  • Ecological Conditions

    Lake Submerged Plant Indicators (LakeSPI)

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    The LakeSPI status describes the ecological condition of the lake and is based on plants present.

    LakeSPI data provided by NIWA

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    LakeSPI history for this lake

    LakeSPI (Lake Submerged Plant Indicators) is a method of characterising the ecological condition of lakes based on the composition of native and invasive plants growing in them. A higher LakeSPI percentage result is associated with better ecological health:

    LakeSPI N/A
    LakeSPI {{spiData.details.Value}}%

    The overall LakeSPI score is calculated using a Native Condition Index ('good' plants) and an Invasive Impact Index (introduced, non-native plants):

    Native Condition N/A
    Native Condition {{spiData.details.NativeIndex}}%
    Invasive Impact N/A
    Invasive Impact {{spiData.details.InvasiveIndex}}% NA

    A higher Native Condition value indicates better ecological condition, but a higher Invasive Impact value indicates invasive plants are negatively impacting native plant communities.
    View a factsheet on LakeSPI for more information on these indicators.

    • LakeSPI
    • Native Condition
    • Invasive Impact
    LakeSPI history for Lake Waikare

    What is this graph showing me?

    This graph is displaying the overall LakeSPI score over time. The results denote the ecological condition of the lake.

    Excellent ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 75-100%.
    High ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 50-75%.
    Moderate ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 20-50%.
    Poor ecological health. A LakeSPI score of 0-20%.
    Non-vegetated. A LakeSPI score of 0% (there are no plants present).
    No data available.
    LakeSPI history for Lake Waikare data table
    Sample Date LakeSPI Status LakeSPI % Native Condition Index % Invasive Impact Index %
    LakeSPI information has been provided by NIWA.

Monitored sites on Lake Waikare

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No sites found.

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