In 1998 hot springs began emerging on property in the Tarewa Road area. Certain members of the public claim that the policies in the Rotorua Geothermal Regional Plan are responsible for the problems associated with the resulting increased activity.
A culmination of the following reasons are more likely to have been the cause of the increased activity:
- Levels in the geothermal aquifer have been increasing steadily since bore closures and imposition of the resource rental regime in the mid 1980s, however, there was a sudden rise in water level in 1998 throughout the aquifer which coincided with the Tarewa Road activity. The reason for this sudden water level rise is unclear.
- An exchange of activity has been recorded between Kuirau Park Springs and Tarewa Road Springs as far back as 1896. In 1998 the activity in Kuirau Park decreased and increased in Tarewa Road.
- When the floors of the endangered dwellings were excavated evidence of former geothermal features was present suggesting that the constructor was aware of the geothermal activity under the building but had built on the site anyway.
There is, however, concern that the increased water level in the aquifer could lead to the activation or reactivation of geothermal surface features in other areas such as the suburb of Fenton Park. In response to these concerns the Rotorua Geothermal Regional Plan will be reviewed when it expires in 2004. The balancing of values is the largest problem faced by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in regard to the Rotorua Geothermal Resource.