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Malaysian environmental visit to view Rotorua lakes systems

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 12:00 p.m.

Lake Rotorua’s water quality management systems and science could soon be making a contribution to the improvement of Malaysia’s waterways following a visit by Malaysian Department of Environment officials to Rotorua this week.

The five officials – four from the Department of Environment and one from the Environment Institute of Malaysia – spent two days in Rotorua with Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) to learn more about water quality management and the practical application of on-farm effluent and water quality regulations.

The officials also visited Rotorua lakes to view some of the water quality science activities, particularly focusing on nutrient reduction and phosphate locking, and technical visits to farms in the Lake Rotorua catchment.

“Water quality concerns are not unique to New Zealand, and in fact are even more serious in some of the more heavily populated Asian countries,” says BOPRC General Manager of Environmental Delivery Warwick Murray

“Since 2010, the Malaysian Government has undertaken a self-assessment study of environmental performance, particularly in relation to air and water quality. Following this groundwork, it is now focusing on its management and compliance frameworks in order to address Malaysia’s water pollution issues.”

While the Department of Environment is a national Government agency in Malaysia, it is also responsible for compliance and monitoring – a function that is delivered at a regional council level in New Zealand.

“While we have a long way to go in cleaning up our lakes, we have certainly made progress and its great to see international interest in our systems, science and regulatory frameworks. This is a positive reflection of the work that has been done so far.”

Mr Murray says a key aspect of the positive progress made to date is how the region has collaboratively interpreted New Zealand’s national legislation in relation to water quality – a philosophy which is seen as best practice.

“A core focus of our regulatory framework has been the collaborative approach we have taken with the farming community. We should all be very proud of what has been achieved with Rotorua’s lakes so far, and while we have a way to go yet, we have made far greater progress due to the fact that we are all working together.

“No-one wants to see a return to a green, smelly lake that we can’t swim in, drink from or sustain our kai.”

Malaysian Tour