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Lake Waikare sewage discharge application

Media Release

March 27, 2008


"Stop Shitting in Our Lakes"

Waikato’s Lake Waikare could have a 1,100 cubic meters of sewage pumped into it daily just as the government and regional authorities commit to a $140 million clean-up of Rotorua’s polluted lakes.

PM Helen Clark stated yesterday that: "The Rotorua lakes are a dramatic example of the problem we face - all are either degraded or at risk environmentally."

And yet the Waikato District Council has just applied to discharge the sewage of 3,000 people, a total of 1,100 cubic meters day, into Lake Waikare - a lake already highly stressed, some say dying.

“Lake Waikare was once known by wildlife experts as a national icon, a veritable paradise on earth,” says John Dyer, Fish & Game Auckland Waikato officer.

“As one of the largest of the lower Waikato lakes, it had the largest concentration of wildlife of any lake in New Zealand, with 50,000 or more waterfowl in just recent times.

“Over the last 40 years, this has been steadily eroded by unchecked pollution and it is now but a shell of its former self.”

Dyer says this may be one of the last applications in the North Island to pump sewage into a freshwater lake, even though the existing sewage ponds’ discharge into the lake has been directly implicated in its initial collapse.

"Lake Waikare does not flow for much of the year, and so the sewage simply accumulates.

“Large amounts of disgusting, rotting, stinking brown porridge-like gunk has formed over recent summers on the eastern shore, well out into the lake and for as far as the eye can see.

“How much more pollution will be allowed in a lake where so many people recreate and so-much wildlife still lives?” asks Dyer.

He says that due to unchecked pollution from agricultural sources, not a single lake in the Waikato now remains suitable for simple summer contact activities such as swimming.

“ Recent mass cattle deaths from drinking lake water suggest the Waikato lakes’ water quality is very poor indeed - far worse than Rotorua’s.”

Dyer says the sewage-contaminated waters of Lake Waikare flow into the internationally recognized, Ramsar-Convention protected Whangamarino Wetland.

"What does internationally recognized mean? Not a lot, apparently", says Dyer.

He says the final destination of these combined flows, sewage-pollution, thousands of tons of farm derived cow manure, fertilizer and silt, is the Waikato River.

"If the treated sewage were discharged directly into the Waikato River, bypassing the lake and wetland, the added cost would likely only be nominal to the total cost.

“But the dilution compared with the lake and wetland, would be 1,000-fold more", says Dyer "and the effects therefore 1,000-times less".

"There is nothing clean and green about stinking, rotting thick brown "porridge.”

People have until April 15 to object, and John Dyer asks that they "send a strong message to Environmental Waikato that this application to pump sewage into an already stagnant lake is no longer to be tolerated in the 21st century.”


ENDS

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