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Government commits to Lake Taupo

Government commits to Lake Taupo

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs has announced a significant government commitment to preserving Lake Taupo for the future.

The government is committing up to $36.7 million to a joint fund to reduce nitrogen inputs to the Lake, with the aim of protecting water quality and clarity.

"We are working with our partners to develop a comprehensive programme, including a joint public fund that will buy, sell and covenant land so that we can change to low nitrogen land uses like forestry," Marian Hobbs said. "This investment of public money must be as cost effective as possible.

"We need to preserve our economic and social opportunities in Taupo, while ensuring the environment continues to support and meet our needs.

"This package is designed to do just that. It is a sustainable development option for the Lake Taupo region – and it is the necessary option."

Other components of the package will include regulations to limit any increases in nitrogen lake inputs, higher environmental standards for new subdivisions and septic tanks, additional research and farm trials for improved pastoral farm systems and investigation of alternative low nitrogen land uses. The Taupo District Council has already proposed upgrades to community sewage schemes.

Talks will continue with Taupo Lake Care farmer group and Landcorp on how to cost-effectively contribute to cutting nitrogen inputs to the lake from farms. The government is also talking with Tûwharetoa who collectively own most of the land around the lake as well as the lakebed itself. This parallel process is needed to address mutual Treaty obligations and to help maintain the economic future of the tribe.

"The success of the project relies on long-term local ownership of the problem and the solutions – and on all of us playing our part," Marian Hobbs said.

"If we want to preserve the Lake for the future, we have to change the way we do things. The fund will be used to support people in doing this.

"I am impressed with the leadership shown by Environment Waikato, Taupo District Council and the local farmers on this issue. I expect more details will be developed over the next few months, including financial commitments from the two councils, with a final package coming back to Cabinet in April 2004."

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