Environment Waikato’s 10 year draft Strategic Plan includes more protection for Lake Taupo.
The Plan, released this week, says while the lake already has the most thorough riparian protection of any water body in the Waikato Region, routine environmental monitoring has shown water clarity has dropped in the centre of the lake at the same time as nitrogen concentrations have doubled.
The Regional Council has forecast a change to the Waikato Regional Plan, which provides guidelines on how resources can be used while maintaining high environmental standards, to protect the lake.
The Strategic Plan says Environment Waikato has identified many sources of nitrogen flowing into the lake and it was known that nitrogen from intensifying land uses took decades to reach lake waters. The current Waikato Regional Plan contained only voluntary provisions to manage nitrogen and incentives for land owners to develop and improve riparian zones to intercept and treat some of the flow.
Since these were not enough for Taupo’s pumice soils, ways of controlling nitrogen needed to be developed as a change to the Waikato Regional Plan later this year. It was likely to take a further three years to reach agreement with the community on the changes, the draft Strategic Plan says.
The draft Plan also promoted protection for the area’s geothermal resources. It says geothermal features are highly prized both for their economic value and their significant contribution to our unique landscape – but pressure on them is increasing.
The Plan proposes monitoring of geysers, sinter deposits and activity in undeveloped fields, monitoring and inventory of regional aquatic geothermal ecosystems over the coming year and continued monitoring of the state and health of protected fields to develop public understanding of these rare ecosystems.
The draft will be considered by the Council on March 29, and is open for submissions for April 17 to May 15. Details will be outlined in the Council’s quarterly magazine EnviroCare, delivered to every household in mid April.
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