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Launch of Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti Action Plan

MEDIA RELEASE

Launch of Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti Action Plan

For immediate release: Thursday 15 January 2004

An initiative to improve water quality in Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti will be kickstarted at a gathering near Rotorua on Anniversary Weekend.

A large turnout is expected for the public meeting, which marks the first step in developing a community-led Action Plan for two of Rotorua’s most popular lakes.

At the meeting, it is hoped that working groups will be established to tackle the problems faced by the linked lakes. These groups are likely to include local residents, landowners, the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game, recreational interests and iwi, plus the three partners in the Rotorua Lakes Strategy, Environment Bay of Plenty, Rotorua District Council and Te Arawa Trust Board.

The meeting will be held on Monday 26 January at the Pikiao Rugby League Clubrooms in Takinga St, Mourea. It will run from 11am to 1pm, starting after the LakesWater Quality Society annual general meeting.

Environment Bay of Plenty chairman John Cronin says the event will give people a chance “to be part of the ongoing process” of working out long-term actions for fixing the lakes.

Mr Cronin says speakers will outline the progress to date and ideas for the future. “We are already well down the path with research into short-term solutions, which tend to be more engineering-based,” Mr Cronin says. One proposal is to build a barrier to divert some of Lake Rotorua’s flow away from Lake Rotoiti. Another involves oxygenating the water in Lake Rotoiti.

However, longer-term actions like land use changes are still “a blank sheet of paper”, he says. Strong community involvement and input is needed right from the start with these. “People will need to make choices about what they want to do to improve water quality.”

Though linked by the Ohau Channel, Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti face different issues and options. Lake Rotorua has a city on its shores, smaller settlements around it, and sits in a large catchment with many farms. Both urban and rural land uses have an impact on water quality so managing the land will be a key focus of any Action Plan. Its goal will be to reduce the amount of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) seeping into the water and affecting its quality.

Lake Rotoiti’s main problem is the water flowing into it from Lake Rotorua. Its Action Plan is more likely to involve engineering solutions.

Because of this, the joint strategy committee has suggested it may be best to form two working parties focused on the different lake catchments. A combined group, with several members taken from each, would pull together a joint Action Plan.

For information about the work planned for the Rotorua lakes go to www.envbop.govt.nz.

ENDS

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