Environment Waikato’s Policy Committee has recommended seeking an “equitable resolution” of the issues surrounding who should pay for necessary changes to protect the quality of Lake Taupo’s water.
The Council has told Taupo residents that it has detected changes in the quality of lake water, due to increased nitrogen input from changing land uses in the catchment. It is concerned that intensifying urban and rural use is adding to nitrogen flows, and supports a goal of maintaining existing water quality.
The Council is proposing a change to the Regional Plan by mid 2002. It recognises that some land management changes could be made almost immediately, but other changes may take longer to implement. It may take up to 15 to 25 years before water quality in the Lake improved.
The Council intends to work with all parties that affect water quality to find land use solutions.
Chairman Neil Clarke said the Council did not intend to allow new and more intensive developments to continue to occur. There had to be an early change of practice to achieve the standards sought. The Council was concerned that approval had been given for another dairy farm to be established in the catchment.
Members of the Lake Care Group addressed the meeting, saying they were equally concerned about the quality, rather than clarity, of the lake, but wanted to see equal change required from other contributors to the problem. Farmers felt that the “rug was being pulled out from under them” and there needed to be a consultative process before decisions were made, rather than the issue ending up in the Environment Court.
Wiari Rauhina said the group wanted to “build bridges” before the change was advertised to achieve better buy-in from affected groups.
“We believe consultation can work. We’re not opposed to the proposed change – we don’t bloody like it but we’re prepared to stand up and be counted.”
Richard Fox said the economic impact report showed small farms would “simply go down the gurgler” and some larger ones would survive with reduced profits. The situation was putting massive stress on the community and farmers, and everything had ground to a halt in the area.