Land use - residential, farming and industry
Most of the catchment area is rural land with a range of farming activities, as well as lifestyle blocks.
The inland part has rolling hills that feed onto generally very flat farmland. It's traversed by numerous stream tributaries, drainage and other channels and depressions.
The smaller, more densely developed part of the catchment houses a major commercial and industrial hub for Timaru, small businesses, residential areas, critical infrastructure, and the lagoon itself.
With one exception, up until the early 1970s the Washdyke industrial area was still entirely rural pasture land and low land on the fringes of Waitarakao Lagoon. Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the industrial and commercial hub has grown rapidly into one of the main industrial and commercial hubs of the Timaru district, and economically, is regionally significant.
The industrial area contains a mix of small business, larger commercial and industrial operations, and large-scale storage facilities. Some businesses directly link into the port via the railway which extends through the area. The industrial area contains critical infrastructure including State Highway One, the Main South Railway Line, and Timaru’s main wastewater treatment ponds.
The industrial centre of Washdyke is protected from freshwater flooding from Washdyke Creek by a flood protection scheme including stopbanks.
The catchment also contains some higher density residential development. The densely developed part of the catchment discharges stormwater into the lagoon, and relies on the lagoon for a natural buffer against sea or freshwater flooding. In future, this part will become increasingly at risk of natural hazards like coastal inundation and erosion.
Residential areas located on the west side of State Highway One which, although elevated above most of the catchment, discharge stormwater to Waitarakao Lagoon and Washdyke Creek.
There are also smaller pockets of residential development within the commercial and industrial areas.