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Funding to improve Rotorua lakes quality quickly


MEDIA RELEASE


Extra funding to improve Rotorua lakes quality more quickly

For immediate release: Tuesday 28 October 2003
Environment Bay of Plenty is earmarking an extra $100,000 this year to try and improve water quality in the Rotorua lakes more quickly.

The regional council approved the additional spending at its finance and corporate services committee meeting last week. “We want to ensure that momentum is not lost,” says chairman John Cronin. “The community has asked us to move as rapidly as possible - and that is what we are doing.”

The money will help pay for economic evaluations of land use changes within the lakes catchments. “People have asked us to find out what impact the conversion from farming to other land uses will have on individual landowners, as well as the regional economy. It’s important that we have a good grasp of the implications here.”

It will also fund investigations of direct intervention options for Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti, including oxygenation and stream diversion. Land management methods like wetland construction and the conversion of pasture into forestry are necessary for long-term improvement but they take time to work, Mr Cronin says.

“They will reduce the flow of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus into the lakes and that will improve water quality. But it won’t happen overnight – and the public wants action now.”

Direct intervention can give quicker results, he says. “However, it’s important we know what we are doing before we start anything. We have to be pretty sure it’s going to work, which is why we need to trial it.”

Direct intervention options include:
Oxygenation
This involves injecting a lake’s bottom waters with oxygen. It is an option that may be suitable for Lake Rotoiti in combination with the diversion referred to below.
Stream Diversion
The Ohau Channel, which links lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti, has an under-current that flows into Lake Rotoiti. A barrier could divert that flow towards Okere Falls and the Kaituna River. Rotorua water puts a large load of nutrients into Rotoiti. Investigations are being made to find out what effect the diversion would have on the ecology of eastern Lake Rotoiti.

Environment Bay of Plenty is working with the Rotorua District Council, Te Arawa Maori Trust Board and other community groups on lakes issues.

ENDS

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