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Government pledge to fund lake work is "good news"

Government pledge to fund lake work is "good news", says regional council

For immediate release: Tuesday 29 June 2004

Environment Bay of Plenty has welcomed a Government pledge to help fund costly but urgent remediation work to improve Lake Rotoiti's water quality.

"It is definitely good news," says chairman John Cronin. "We are delighted the Government is able to contribute in this way. It will help us to fast track short term works without placing an undue loan burden on our ratepayers."

However, Mr Cronin said it was regrettable that the Government declined a request to assist financially with important work related to the overall Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme. This work, which includes research, monitoring and the development of action plans, is budgeted to cost Environment Bay of Plenty $2.2 million over the next 12 months. The regional council asked the Government to contribute $950,000 towards it.

In their announcement, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and Health Minister Annette King offered $7.2 million specifically to help fund short-term measures aimed at rapidly improving water quality in Lake Rotoiti.

Of the total, $3.2 million will go towards the cost of reticulating sewage in the lakeside communities of Mourea and Okawa Bay. The remaining $4 million will contribute to urgent remedial engineering works in Lake Rotoiti over a two-year period.

A key option under investigation by Environment Bay of Plenty is to divert water flowing from Lake Rotorua into Lake Rotoiti via the Ohau Channel. Manager of environmental investigations John McIntosh says this water is loaded with nutrients, degrading the water quality in Lake Rotoiti. New estimates show it is likely to cost $12 million to complete the project.

Environment Bay of Plenty, Rotorua District Council and Te Arawa Maori Trust Board are working with the community to improve water quality in both Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti. A working group was set up earlier this year to develop a community-led Action Plan. It is likely to involve a variety of solutions, including both short-term options like engineering works and long-term solutions such as land use changes.

ENDS

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