15 Jul 2015

Iwi backs water quality agreements

8:18 pm on 15 July 2015

A Bay of Plenty iwi is welcoming a move to slash the amount of nitrogen seeping into Lake Taupō.

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo Photo: 123rf

Ngāti Tūwharetoa has been fighting to reduce the high levels of pollution in the roto for nearly two decades.

The Lake Taupō Protection Trust, its central and local government funders, and Ngāti Tūwharetoa, have reached agreements with land owners to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the lake by 170 tonnes a year.

The Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board, which owns the lake, says the changes will involve purchasing farm land and converting its use so the land has a lower nitrogen output.

Its chief executive Topia Rameka said Lake Taupō is the aorta of the North Island, so it was critical that its quality was preserved.

Mr Rameka said reducing nitrogen levels was essential to maintaining the lake for future generations and their tamariki and mokopuna.

"The key driver for us is that our future generations can enjoy good quality water into the future," he said.

"It is going to take some time to achieve that because of issues with ground water and how that all works but the main goal for us is that into the future the water quality of the lake would be of a level that we're satisfied with."

Mr Rameka said the iwi's long term goal was to ensure that by 2080, the water quality of the lake will be the same as it was in 1990.

He said it was during the late 1990's when regional council monitoring showed that water quality in Lake Taupō was deteriorating and losing the clarity it was famed for.

He said nitrogen emissions, which can cause algal growth, were identified as the cause.

The Lake Taupō Protection Trust's chairman, Clayton Stent, said addressing the issue was essential.

"This is a very major milestone in efforts to protect Lake Taupō, which is an iconic national treasure and major tourism asset," he said.

"Getting the nitrogen leaching load down is crucial to ensuring the lake's future health."

Meanwhile Taupō mayor David Trewavas said there had been a substantial investment from both urban and rural parts of the community.

"I am very proud of the way our community has pulled together to protect our greatest taonga."

The on-the-ground arrangements for the annual 170 tonnes reduction will be finalised by 2018.