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Trust proposed to administer Lake Taupo water protection fund

Moves are underway to establish a suitable body to manage a public fund that will be used to reduce manageable nitrogen entering Lake Taupo by 20 percent.

A total of $81.5 million is going into the fund over the next 15 years as part of a joint funding arrangement between the Crown, Environment Waikato and Taupo District Council. The Crown is contributing 45 percent of the total funding, with the rest coming from Environment Waikato and Taupo District Council rates.

Initial discussions have indicated that both councils favour setting up a stand-alone business entity, with appointed board members responsible to a political joint committee.

Taupo District Council Mayor Clayton Stent and Environment Waikato Chairman Neil Clarke said all parties were committed to ensuring that the fund was used to meet nitrogen reduction objectives and protect Lake Taupo’s water quality. They said time was being spent to set up a structure that was transparent, accountable and effective.

A joint working group consisting of two nominated councillors from both Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato along with Crown representatives will be established to guide development of a management structure following the Local Government Elections in October.

A draft management structure is expected to be approved for public consultation by Environment Waikato and Taupo District Council in February. Public comment on the draft document will be sought as part of both Councils’ annual planning processes. The final management structure is due to be formally established in July 2005.

The trust fund will be used to undertake a range of activities designed to achieve the targeted 20 percent nitrogen reduction. Options included working with landowners on good practice for nitrogen reduction, purchase, conversion and retirement of farmland. The Trust’s activities will be supported by a proposed variation to the Waikato Regional Plan that will introduce new land use regulations to control nutrient inputs into Lake Taupo.

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