Millions of dollars of Government funding has been
reallocated in what is being described as the "last piece of
the puzzle" to clean up Lake Rotorua once and for all.
Environment Minister Amy Adams announced yesterday $24
million will remain in the region and be used to address land
use management and counter the effects of urban waste water
and the ongoing effects of historical farming practices.
The announcement was celebrated by representatives of
regional and district councils, farmers and iwi at Aorangi
Peak Restaurant yesterday, led by MP Todd McClay.
The money remains from an original funding agreement of $72
million in 2008 as part of the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes water
quality improvements programme, a partnership between the
district and regional councils and Te Arawa Lakes Trust.
The Crown provided half of the $144 million needed to help
restore four priority lakes - Rotorua, Rotoiti, Okareka and
Rotoehu. The rest of the funding was jointly made by the
Rotorua District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
"This is the last piece of the puzzle needed to get on
cleaning up Lake Rotorua once and for all," Mr McClay said.
"It was not always certain this money would remain in
Rotorua. The original funding deed agreed by Government for
$72 million stated that should the funding not be used for
the original purpose it should be returned to Treasury.
"However, scientists believed the existing plan to divert
nutrient-rich streams flowing into the lake and cap sediments
to stop nutrients flowing up from the lake bed wasn't a
"After ongoing and in-depth discussions between Cabinet and
the lakes stakeholder advisory group it was agreed that the
money may now be used instead to support the land use
management and change efforts being driven by the Rotorua
Mr McClay said it was a collaborative effort from local
stakeholders which led the minister to agree to re-allocating
the money. He said tourism was the biggest employer in the
region and worth half a billion dollars to the local economy
so improving the quality of the lakes was vital.
Agriculture was also worth half a billion dollars, so support
for farmers was also needed.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said it was a relief to hear the
money would remain in the region.
"It is wonderful news, I was particularly worried about this,
if Cabinet had not agreed it could have been lost ... the
lakes programme is hugely important both for our local
community and nationally, and we want to do whatever we can
to help our landowners make the changes necessary to achieve
our goals for Lake Rotorua."
Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group chairman Sir Toby
Curtis said while the lake's water quality was improving, the
challenge was sustaining that improvement in the long term.
About the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme
In 2008 the Government agreed to contribute $72 million to
implement the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme, half the
total cost of $144 million. The rest is being funded jointly
by the Rotorua District Council and Bay of Plenty Regional
The programme aims to restore four priority lakes - Rotorua,
Rotoiti, Okareka and Rotoehu and includes multiple measures
to address sources of nutrients entering the lakes.
Combined interventions including sewerage reticulation,
sewerage plant upgrades, floating wetlands and a treatment
plant for geothermal nitrogen will reduce the nitrogen load
in Lake Rotorua by an estimated 50 tonnes a year. This leaves
an annual balance of 270 tonnes to be reduced from the
pastoral sector to achieve the 320 tonne reduction target.
It is proposed the 270 tonnes will be achieved through
land-use management (setting nitrogen discharge allowances),
land-use change and re-vegetation of areas of gorse (which
- Rotorua Daily Post