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Open day on Action Plan for Lake Okareka

MEDIA RELEASE

Open day on Action Plan for Lake Okareka

For immediate release: Thursday 15 January 2004

Lake Okareka residents can find out more about plans to enhance their lake’s quality during an open day at the local community hall on Sunday 25 January.

A working group of landowners, community groups, iwi and district and regional council representatives unveiled the proposed Lake Okareka Catchment Management Action Plan in late December.

The plan, which is open for submissions until 20 February, involves a range of options aimed at reducing the amount of bacteria and nutrients in the lake.

Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus feed algal growth, which reduces water quality.

Major options include sewage treatment, land use changes, new wetlands and engineering solutions.

The open day will start with a short presentation at noon and will run until 4pm. People will have an opportunity to learn more about the proposals, says Rotorua Lakes Strategy coordinator Paul Dell. They will be able to discuss the issues with Rotorua District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty staff and councillors.

The working party’s target has been to reduce nitrogen input into Lake Okareka by 2.5 tonnes and phosphorus by 0.08 tonnes a year. It suggests a mixture of proposals designed to reach that target. They include:

Sewage treatment. Full sewage reticulation and stand-alone treatment in the catchment, though expensive, would remove 80% of the nitrogen target and 12% of the phosphorus target. Reticulation will also fix the problem of bacteria contaminating the lake frontage in urban areas.

Land use change. Options include, but are not limited to, converting a certain amount of pasture to forestry or establishing bush-clad lifestyle blocks. The group is still looking at ways to lower nutrient loss while maintaining economic return.

Wetlands. If built properly, wetlands can remove up to 90% of the inflow of nitrogen. The Action Plan identifies three areas for new wetlands, at the Millar Road stream, at the lake edge on Millar Road and on a property by the new Lake Okareka walkway.

Pipeline. A pipe at the bottom of the lake would remove water with a high phosphorus concentration during key months of the year. It is a possible option for reducing the phosphorus load by 0.03 tonnes/year, or more than one third of the phosphorus target.

If all goes well, the various options could be set up relatively quickly, Mr Dell says. He estimated the pipeline could be in place in two years, a sewerage scheme and wetlands in three years and land use changes in three to five years. Further evaluation of land use change options is expected to happen over the next one to two years.

Lake Okareka currently has the best water quality of the five lakes requiring Action Plans. It was chosen as the first lake to go through the process because of concerns that its water quality could deteriorate rapidly over the next few years.

For a copy of the Proposed Lake Okareka Catchment Management Action Plan please call Environment Bay of plenty on 0800 368 267.

ENDS

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