REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF LAKE TARAWERA & RATEPAYERS

All aspects of community interest are on our radar. Some issues are major and ongoing, others are of a more immediate nature.

Lake water quality, waste water, refuse collection, environmental protection and pest eradication are major issues requiring urgent and ongoing attention. Refuse collection, cellphone reception, ultrafast internet are more immediate but require tenacious lobbying by the LTRA.

Lake water quality by Terry Beckett

Water quality is gradually declining in Lake Tarawera. The cause of this deterioration is uncertain, but is likely to be from different sources, including septic tank effluent reaching the lake, surrounding land use changes and geothermal activity. Declining water quality manifests itself as increasing blue green algal blooms in the summer, usually centred on the Wairua Arm of the lake, decreasing water clarity and the presence of E coli in untreated drinking water drawn directly from the lake. The presence of E. coli is a potential public health risk.

Approximately 80% of water entering the lake is from underground sources, probably from seven surrounding lakes (Rotomahana; Okaro; Rerewhakaaitu; Rotokakahi; Tikitapu; Okareka and Okataina). Lake Tarawera is known to be rich in phosphorus, presumably from volcanic ash and geothermal activity and so algal growth is limited by nitrogen.

Action plans to improve or prevent further deterioration in water quality have been proposed since 2005 but Lake Tarawera still does not have an Action Plan in place. Beginning in 2005, Lake Tarawera residents and ratepayers have financially supported the establishment of a climate station on surrounding land, the establishment and ongoing maintenance of a monitoring buoy and measuring the volume of, and analysing the nutrients in, surface flows into the lake. While there is little that can be done to limit geothermal inputs, or landuse changes in the immediate future; a reticulated sewerage scheme would be guaranteed to prevent septic tank effluent reaching the lake. Interestingly, Lake Tarawera is the only major Rotorua Lake without a reticulated sewerage scheme installed or planned.