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Check, Clean, Dry around lakes this summer

Friday, 14 January 2011 4:10 p.m.

Check, Clean, Dry is a message you'll come across if you're out enjoying the Rotorua Lakes this summer.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council summer students Nathan Burkepile and Lauren Bennett are working with Department of Conservation contractor Amy Greeves to raise awareness about aquatic pests and to promote the 'Check, Clean, Dry' message to lake users.

The three of them will be busy this summer attending events and visiting boat ramps, camping grounds and other key sites around the lakes to make recreational lake users aware of the need to be responsible and help keep the lakes cleaner.

Nathan said aquatic pests could spread quickly and easily.

"At this stage the Rotorua lakes are free from most pest fish and some aquatic weeds, so we'll be working to make sure we keep it that way," said Nathan.

"It only takes a fragment of weed to begin the spread of invasive aquatic weeds and pest fish. Lake users should always follow a Check, Clean, Dry process.

"This means checking all your equipment for any weed fragments and, to prevent the spread of didymo, cleaning with a five percent detergent solution, before drying for 48 hours or more," Nathan explained.

Aquatic pests include weeds, pest fish and didymo, which is an invasive freshwater microscopic alga that forms a thick brown layer which smothers rocks and submerged plants on the lake or river bed. These blooms are a serious threat to native plant and fish life, and also to recreational use of the area.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is still working to eradicate the invasive aquatic weed hornwort from Lake Ōkataina after a relatively significant population of the pest was detected earlier this year.

With the influx of visitors expected during summer, the students know that awareness is the key to protecting our lakes from any further aquatic pests this summer.

"A big part of our work is getting the message out among lake users about the damage that aquatic pests can do, and the positive impact that individuals can make by simply checking, cleaning and drying their gear," said Lauren