Thursday, 18 April 2013 09:05

$3m for Lake Taupo water quality

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The Waikato Regional Council has welcomed a $3 million funding injection from the Government to ensure the long-term protection of Lake Taupo's excellent water quality.

 Chairman Peter Buckley says protecting the lake is crucial for a range of environmental, economic, social and cultural reasons.

"The funding will ensure we can meet our nitrogen reduction target and protect the lake for future generations of New Zealanders," he says.

The Protecting Lake Taupo Project aims to reduce by 20% the amount of nitrogen getting into the lake from manageable sources, such as leaching from farms and discharges from wastewater plants. This is aimed at preventing the growth of too much algae which can affect water clarity in the lake, a major tourism draw card.

The Lake Taupo Protection Trust was set up to help implement the project by administering an $81.5 million public fund, made up of contributions from central Government (45%), Waikato Regional Council (33% and Taupo District Council (22%).

The latest funding increases the value of the fund and enables the trust to take the final steps to meet the nitrogen reduction target of 170 tonnes a year by 2020.

The trust buys land or assists farmers to change their land use and has made excellent progress in reducing the total amount of nitrogen from farms getting to the lake. For example, the trust has used the funds to convert 5800ha of farmland to low-nitrogen leaching plantation forestry.
"The regional council's partners in the project - central Government, Ngati Tuwharetoa and Taupō District Council, and the many farmers in the catchment who have had to make significant changes to their farm systems - have all played a very crucial role in the success of this project," says Cr Buckley.
The regional council's Taupo constituency councillor Laurie Burdett says the community had made it clear how important it was to them to protect the lake.
"I'm delighted to know we have the funds to finish the job the community asked us to do," she says.

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