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Published: 2016-02-05 00:00:00

Funding from the Waikato River Authority’s latest round of grants will help protect and enhance shallow lakes such as Lake Waikare and Lake Waahi in Waikato District, says a multi-agency group working to improve water quality there.

The Waikato District Lakes and Freshwater Wetlands Memorandum of Agreement group – involving Waikato District Council, Waikato Regional Council, Waikato-Tainui, the Department of Conservation, and Fish & Game – has a strong focus on improving the health of these lakes.

Because of their size and location, the region’s shallow lakes are vulnerable to problems caused by hydrological modification, nutrient enrichment, and invasive pest plants and animals such as koi carp.

“This work will be crucial to identifying ways to improve the health of Lake Waikare and Lake Waahi in the district,” said the group’s chair Jan Sedgwick, the Waikato district councillor for Whangamarino ward.

“We really appreciate the authority’s support for this type of work and look forward to working with them on future funding applications to implement options identified by this research,” said Cr Sedgwick.

The group’s deputy chair Peter Buckley, a Waikato regional councillor for the Waikato constituency, said it was great to have the agreement’s signatories working together on the issues.

“It’s crucial to have good collaboration amongst agencies and with the community when we look to make improvements,” Cr Buckley said.

The shallow lakes work to be funded by the Waikato River Authority will include computer modelling and the identification of options for better lake management. This work forms part of the $800,000 overall provided for the development of a Waikato and Waipa Rivers Restoration Strategy, with joint funding from the authority, Dairy NZ and the regional council. The DOC/Fonterra Living Waters partnership, and Waipa District Council are also providing funding for the strategy’s shallow lakes work.

“Having these lakes healthier supports plant and animal life, and local iwi and the general community are very keen to see their health improved,” said Cr Sedgwick.

A separate project in the district which has received authority funding after being championed by the agreement group is enhancement of Lake Waikare’s northern foreshore. Some $35,000 has been allocated for the creation of a wetland which will help support local biodiversity.

Meanwhile, a public information evening is being organised at Te Kauwhata for Wednesday 16 March to discuss the problems faced at Lake Waikare and the possible solutions that are currently being considered. The various agencies will explain their work as it relates to Lake Waikare.

“This will also provide an opportunity to get the community’s input into the development of future options to better support the health of the lake,” said Cr Buckley.

In an earlier round of funding several years ago, the agreement group was also successful in obtaining $180,000 in authority funding for a programme of restoration works at Lake Areare in Horsham Downs.