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Official launch for wetland built to save lake


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The Lake Okaro wetland

Media Release

Official launch for wetland built to help save lake

For immediate release: Friday 20 January 2006

One of the region’s largest constructed wetlands will be officially opened at a ceremony attended by the Minister for Local Government, Mark Burton, near Rotorua on Friday 3 February.

The event, which marks World Wetlands Day in the Bay of Plenty, will take place at the site of a wetland built by Environment Bay of Plenty to improve water quality in Lake Okaro. It celebrates a “very visible” sign of the progress being made to save the Rotorua lakes, says Environment Bay of Plenty chairman John Cronin.

Over the past few years, Environment Bay of Plenty, its strategic partners, Rotorua District Council and Te Arawa Maori Trust Board, and the lakes’ community have put “a really huge effort” into the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Action Programme. “It is a massive and costly task but these lakes are national icons and we need to do everything we can to protect and restore them,” Mr Cronin says.

At the moment, the programme is tackling water quality in five lakes. This year, Action Plans will begin on seven more lakes. “Though planning and research are important starting points, it’s the actions that follow which count in the end,” Mr Cronin says. “Over the past two to three years, we have laid a solid foundation on which to act. We have put in place a number of important rules to help stop further increases of nutrients going into the lakes. Rotorua District Council has launched a massive sewerage reticulation programme. We are dosing some lakes and streams with minerals that help improve water quality, and are testing others, including Lake Okaro. We expect to build the diversion wall that will be the saving of Lake Rotoiti this year.” The Lake Okaro wetland is a visible sign of progress and, as such, needs to be celebrated, he adds. “It is a big day for the Rotorua lakes programme.”

The official ceremony to launch the wetland starts at Lake Okaro reserve at 10am. Mr Burton will be guest speaker. It will be followed at 11.30am by a three-hour field day for landowners and others interested in restoring and building wetlands. They will be able to talk to wetland experts, including designers and builders, environmental scientists, and regional and district council planners. The field day is organised by Fish and Game Eastern Region, the Department of Conservation, Rotorua District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty as a World Wetlands Day event. It will run until 2.30pm.

The Lake Okaro wetland covers 2.3ha and encompasses both private land, owned by farmers Shane and June Birchall, and Rotorua District Council reserve. It was built by Environment Bay of Plenty for the purpose of filtering nutrients from the water in two streams that run right through it. The wetland’s construction is one of the main actions in an Action Plan to improve water quality in Lake Okaro.

All are welcome to attend the official opening, at 10am, or the field day. Lake Okaro is about 20 minutes drive south of Rotorua. When travelling on State Highway 5 to Taupo, turn left off the highway just past the regional boundary (State Highway 38) and then left again at the Lake Okaro road sign (Okaro Road).

ENDS

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