Tuesday, 29 April 2014 08:49

$24m reallocated for lake cleanup

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THE GOVERNMENT will reallocate $24 million to a new project that encourages land owners in the Lake Rotorua catchment to switch to low nitrogen land uses or find other ways to reduce the amount of nitrogen polluting the lake water, Environment Minister Amy Adams says.

"The Rotorua community has asked us to shift existing funding commitments to a land use management and change project, as part of the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes water quality improvements programme," Adams says.

"The original plan was to use the money for diverting nutrient-rich streams flowing into the lake and capping sediments to stop nutrients flowing up from the lake bed. Cabinet agreed with the lake stakeholder advisory group that these short term initiatives really just shifted the problem somewhere else.

"We have agreed that the money may now be used instead to support the land use management and change efforts being driven by the Rotorua community.

"This will ultimately reduce the amount of nitrogen leaching into the lake by half, which will enable community-agreed water quality targets for Lake Rotorua to be met.

"I am particularly pleased to see this project has the backing of the primary sector and iwi as part of collaborative efforts to clean up the water quality in these iconic and nationally-significant lakes.

"The water quality in the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes has improved in the past year and Lake Rotoiti's water quality target has been met for the first time and is the best since monitoring began in 1991. At the same time, water quality in Lake Rotorua and Rotoehu has also improved significantly.

"While these results are encouraging, there is still work to be done and we need to implement the land use management and change efforts so that these results can continue into the future."

The funds are part of a $72.1 million commitment by the Government in 2008 towards a variety of initiatives to clean up four priority Rotorua lakes. The total project cost is $144.2 million over 24 years.

"The lake stakeholder advisory group has devised this scheme to enable water quality to be improved while ensuring the pastoral sector remains sustainable which is a win-win for both the economy and the environment."

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