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Published: 2002-12-20 00:00:00

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and local member for parliament Mark Burton met with Environment Waikato and Taupo representatives last week to make progress on a strategy to preserve the Lake.

Environment Waikato chairman Neil Clarke, Taupo Mayor Clayton Stent and senior representatives met with the ministers on Thursday to discuss the next steps needed to improve water quality in the Lake.

Development of land for agriculture and urban development over the last 50 years has led to increasing amounts of nitrogen entering Lake Taupo. Long term monitoring indicates that these changes are threatening the Lake’s excellent water quality, with trends in several key water quality measures indicating that Lake water quality is gradually worsening.

If nitrogen loads to the Lake continue to increase, water quality will decline further.

Marian Hobbs said the Government agreed there was an environmental problem that affected people’s livelihoods and their sense of belonging in a truly beautiful part of New Zealand.

“Everyone agrees with the goals of protecting the Lake and improving economic outcomes – the challenge will be to make this work in a way that is fair to everyone.”

Mr Burton said protection of the Lake required help from everybody in the Taupo catchment.
Mr Clarke said Environment Waikato had been consulting with the community in order to find sustainable ways of living in the Taupo catchment.

It is working with Taupo Lake Care, which represents about 85 percent of farmers in the area, the Lakes and Waterways group, and Tuwharetoa economic authorities that manage farming and forestry in the area.

“We’ve been discussing the issue, the reasons for it and what we can do about it. Solutions are being developed. A partnership approach is important in finding a resolution of this problem.”

He said the group hoped to have a draft strategy ready for public consultation in about March next year.

Clayton Stent said indications that Central Government was prepared to participate in a four way solution would be welcomed by residents in the Lake Taupo district.

"From a ratepayer perspective the concern has always been that it would fall on a few to solve the problem, and it is wonderful to get recognition that our Lake is recognised as a national treasure. "