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Have your say on Lake Okataina Action Plan

Friday, 5 October 2012 10:00 a.m.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has proposed an Action Plan to help improve water quality at Lake Okataina.

Lake Okataina's water quality does not meet the water quality standard set by the community, with nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients entering the lake from a range of natural sources and human activities. These nutrients contribute to the growth of toxic algal blooms and aquatic weeds in the lake.

General Manager Natural Resource Operations Warwick Murray said the Regional Council had had discussions and workshops with the Lake Okataina community, iwi and other groups to develop the draft Action Plan.

"What was clear from these discussions was that the Lake Okataina community wants to retain the lake's unique and tranquil environment for everyone to enjoy," he said.

"Water quality in the lake is not as good as it should be so we've taken a look at why and we've talked to the community about what we can do about it. It is not obvious what the problem is. We suspect that nitrogen is under control but phosphorous is going up and we're not sure why. 

"The key action is to do some more work to understand where the phosphorous is coming from and what we might do about it. We're keen to hear views of the community on what should be done."

Mr Murray said Okataina was unique in that the majority of the nutrients entering the lake were from native bush, rather than from surrounding farmland.

"Science is telling us that the nitrogen levels entering the lake will reduce over time. What we don't know is why the phosphorus levels are increasing. One of the key actions in the draft Action Plan is to investigate where the phosphorus is coming from and what we can do to reduce this.

"We want the community to tell us what they think of the draft Action Plan. Do they agree with our proposed actions and is there anything else that we should consider?" he said.

Actions to improve Lake Okataina's water quality have been underway for some time, such as changing land uses and management, and managing animal pests and aquatic weeds.

The draft Action Plan is part of the Rotorua Lakes Protection and Restoration Programme, a partnership between Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Rotorua District Council and Te Arawa Lakes Trust. This $200 million programme's goal is to improve water quality in all 12 Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes.

"The Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes are an important part of our community. We all need to work together to improve water quality in our lakes," Mr Murray said.

Copies of the draft Action Plan and a feedback form are available on the Lake Okataina page or from Regional Council Rotorua District Council and Te Arawa Lakes Trust offices. Feedback closes on 31 October 2012.


About Lake Okataina

Lake Okataina is one of the 12 Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes. The lake is reasonably remote, deep and surrounded by native bush.

In 1921, Ngati Tarawhai gifted the shore of Lake Okataina to the Crown to be protected as a reserve.

At a glance:

  • Lake size: 1,080 ha / 10.8 km2
  • Catchment area: 6,290 ha / 62.9 km²
  • Elevation: 311 m
  • Average depth: 39 m
  • Deepest point: 79 m
  • Formed: 7,000 years ago
  • No surface outlet, drains via groundwater to Lake Tarawera.
Lake Okataina lowres