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Lake Horowhenua restoration project progressing well

Lake Horowhenua restoration project progressing well

Work to restore Lake Horowhenua's environmental health is moving towards the second phase.

On behalf of the Lake Horowhenua Accord, Horizons Regional Council has applied for resource consents for several of the major initiatives proposed.

These include building a boat ramp to launch a weed harvester purchased by Horizons, installing a fish bypass structure at the lake outlet into the Hokio stream, as well as a sediment trap near the entry point of the Arawhata stream. Independent commissioners have been appointed to consider the resource consent applications.

These are among the 34 key tasks to be undertaken as part of the Lake Horowhenua Accord Action Plan 2014 - 2016. The Action Plan identifies the roles and responsibilities of the Accord's five partners - the Lake Horowhenua Trust representing the Muaūpoko beneficial owners, Horowhenua Lake Domain Board, Horowhenua District Council, Horizons Regional Council, and the Department of Conservation.

The work and monitoring programme will be reviewed after the two years, followed by a refreshment of objectives to take place in August 2018.

Lake Horowhenua Accord chairperson Matt Sword says the proposed activities needing resource consents follow on from the significant work achieved already.

He says this includes Horizons and NIWA scientists having mapped in detail where and when the Lake weed grows and where it is at its worst.

“We envisage that this project alone will have significant positive effects on Lake water quality by taking away much of the fuel that feeds the seasonal algae bloom. We have set priorities for cutting once the resource consents are completed.”

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The boat wash installed by Horowhenua District Council at the end of Queen Street provides a convenient facility for boat owners to wash down their boats before and after contact with the Lake and reduce the risk of further lake weed species being introduced.

Horowhenua District Mayor Brendan Duffy says an added feature is that all the soapy and dirty water run-off at the boat wash is directed into the sewerage reticulation and straight to Levin's wastewater treatment plant.

“This answers one major issue to date, but we are also close to sorting out the stormwater issues arising from the Queen Street drain to the Lake. We are working with archaeologists to finally resolve the issues that have long-delayed the planned work there. All this will be a major contribution to the project.”

Horizons has also been working with local horticultural growers and dairy farmers to help them develop environmental plans.

Horizons freshwater and science manager Dr Jon Roygard says the growers and farmers are well on board with the work programme.

"In total, 88 percent of the 406 hectares of cropped land in the Arawhata sub-catchment has been assessed and growers have developed drainage and erosion management plans to reduce sediment inputs into the lake. Efforts are now also being focussed on the wider catchment," Dr Roygard said.

"And, all 10 dairy farms in the catchment have had environmental plans produced, which cover 1765 hectares."

There has also been over a kilometre of riparian fencing added and around 3000 plants planted around the lake edge - half of these during three community working bees.

The Lake Horowhenua Trust, with support from Te Puni Kokiri, has also begun developing a cultural monitoring framework. A consultant has been engaged and there have already been three workshops with owners as part of building that framework.

Matt Sword says the Lake Horowhenua Accord governance group is pleased with progress in the first year.

"This is a long term journey and everyone has a part to play in it. Now we are looking to formalise relationships with a range of other groups whose activities can directly help achieve what we all want; a clean and beautiful lake that sustains a rich fishery and sustains our people," Mr Sword said.

Much of the work to date has been funded from the $1.27 million Lake restoration fund. This includes $540,000 from the Ministry for the Environment's Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-Up Fund, and $730,500 of combined funding from Horizons Regional Council, Horowhenua District Council, the Tararua Growers Association and Dairy NZ.


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