Taupo residents are most concerned about toxic algal blooms and sewage pollution, according to a recent survey carried out by the 2020 Taupo-nui-a-Tia Project.
2020 Taupo-nui-a-Tia is a three-year project which includes Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, Environment Waikato, Lakes and Waterways Action Group, Ministry for the Environment, Department of Conservation and Taupo District Council supported by Crown Research Institutes such as NIWA and Geological and Nuclear Science.
Over 1200 Taupo households were asked to rank the environmental issues of most concern to them, ranking the threats they felt affected their quality of life around and on Lake Taupo. The threats included public access rights, recreational amenities, historic and geological assets, security and safety.
A total of 435 people took part in the survey, with the highest response in new housing areas. Clear water and safe drinking water were considered most important. Sewage pollution and toxic algal blooms concerned 87 percent of respondents, and 83 percent were very concerned about invasive pests and weeds.
Nitrogen inputs from sewage and stormwater concerned 80 percent while 71 percent were very concerned about nitrogen inputs from farming. Respondents agreed that Lake Taupo was a national icon and that people needed to work together to protect the Lake, which was vital for the well-being of Taupo district.
A total of 89 percent rated environmental protection more important than economic development, and just over half were prepared to pay up to $100 in their extra. Some were prepared to pay more.
The 2020 project aims to develop a strategy to assist local communities to progress sustainably, while protecting the environment. Input has come from tangata whenua, community groups, Central and local government agencies. Later this year, the public will have an opportunity to engage in and actively contribute to development of the 2020 strategy.
The Project will complete a 2020 Community Action Plan by July this year. The project team is finalising the ranking of one group of threats and developing solutions to the highest ranked threats, Project Manager Dr Charlotte Severne said.
“For the final strategy to be taken seriously by the people of Lake Taupo, it’s important that all sectors of the community are included. The 2020 Forum includes representatives from most aspects of the community to help develop the Action Plan to encourage sectors of the community to implement solutions and have their say.”
“2020 Taupo-nui-a-Tia can be seen as the long-term vision for the Lake, integrating social, environmental and economic knowledge. The strategy will enable agencies, iwi and the wider community to make educated and informed decisions about sustainable development in the Lake Taupo area,” Dr Severne said.
As part of the 2020 Taupo-nui-a-Tia Project, Ngati Tuwharetoa have developed an Environmental Iwi Management Plan. It establishes Ngati Tuwharetoa environmental baselines and provides tools that will help hapu/whanau and the tribe as a whole achieve and protect them. Tuwharetoa baselines will be included in the development of the 2020 strategy.
Environment Waikato is proposing changes to the Waikato Regional Plan later this year, in consultation with local agencies and farmer groups, to help protect water quality in the Lake.
Alongside this, the 2020 project is undertaking a review of the plans, policies and strategies for Lake Taupo and its surrounding area. The review will investigate how the wider community values and issues outlined in the Taupo Accord are being addressed through policies and programmes. The review will highlight where community issues are not being adequately addressed and will be completed by October 2003.
The 2020 Taupo-nui-a-Tia Project website has been updated with new information about the Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The winners of a draw from completed survey entries of a $100 grocery voucher are Rex Tindall, Flo Boyland and Ruth McHendry of Taupo.