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Published: 2013-04-17 00:00:00

The Waikato Regional Council has welcomed a $3 million funding injection from the Government to ensure the long-term protection of Lake Taupō’s excellent water quality.

Chairman Peter Buckley said protecting the lake was crucial for a range of environmental, economic, social and cultural reasons.

“The funding announced today will ensure we can meet our nitrogen reduction target and protect the lake for future generations of New Zealanders,” he said.

The ground-breaking Protecting Lake Taupō Project aims to reduce by 20 per cent the amount of nitrogen getting into the lake from manageable sources, such as leaching from farms and discharges from wastewater plants. This is aimed at preventing the growth of too much algae which can affect water clarity in the lake, a major tourism draw card.

The Lake Taupō Protection Trust was set up to help implement the project by administering an $81.5 million public fund, made up of contributions from central Government (45 per cent), Waikato Regional Council (33 per cent) and Taupō District Council (22 per cent).

Today’s funding announcement increases the value of the fund and enables the trust to take the final steps to meet the nitrogen reduction target of 170 tonnes a year by 2020.

The trust buys land or assists farmers to change their land use and has made excellent progress in reducing the total amount of nitrogen from farms getting to the lake. For example, the trust has used the funds to convert 5,800 hectares of farmland to low-nitrogen leaching plantation forestry.

“The regional council’s partners in the project - central Government, Ngati Tuwharetoa and Taupō District Council, and the many farmers in the catchment who have had to make significant changes to their farm systems - have all played a very crucial role in the success of this project,” said Cr Buckley.

The regional council’s Taupō constituency councilor Laurie Burdett said the community had made it clear how important it was to them to protect the lake.

“I’m delighted to know we have the funds to finish the job the community asked us to do,” she said.