Accord reveals lake cleanup plans

A year after agreeing on their aims, the members of the Lake Horowhenua Accord have released their plan for restoring one of New Zealand's most polluted waterways.

A 64-page Lake Horowhenua Accord Action Plan was released yesterday in Levin, a year after the accord was signed.

The document outlines the history of the lake, how it came to have water so toxic it is potentially lethal, and the challenges now facing the five organisations that form the accord.

The plan provides, for the first time, details of the 34 tasks the accord partners have planned in order to reach the seven goals they agreed to 12 months ago.

Some of these have already been achieved, such as the construction of a boat washdown facility, which opened last week.

Others have deadlines of April, 2016, or "to be confirmed".

Lake Horowhenua Accord chairman Matthew Sword said there was strong desire to apply real actions to address the key ecological issues facing the lake.

"The action plan outlines the steps we will take to bring this taonga back to health and return the lake as a source of pride for the people of Horowhenua," Sword said.

"By publicly identifying what we will be doing, what the community can do and what the key issues are, we are drawing a line in the sand and making a real commitment to the future of the lake."

Horowhenua mayor Brendan Duffy said it was fantastic to see the progress being made to restore the troubled lake.

"One year on from the signing of the Lake Horowhenua Accord, the development of the action plan has all partners singing from the same song sheet.

"We have the funding to make a start on restoration and we're wasting no time in getting efforts under way."

So far $1.27 million has been contributed to the lake's cleanup, including a $540,000 grant from the Ministry for the Environment's Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund.

The rest of the funding is from accord partners such as Horizons Regional Council and Horowhenua District Council and agricultural groups, the Tararua Growers Association and DairyNZ.

Horizons environment committee chairwoman Colleen Sheldon said the action plan marked a major milestone in the lake's management.

"Lake Horowhenua is a valuable asset for Horowhenua and the greater Horizons Region, not only culturally but socially and economically as well," she said.

"This action plan is a stake in the ground. It establishes how we will restore the lake to a healthy state and provides information on how everyone can play their part.

"Accountability is vital to progress and I look forward to seeing the lake reclaim its position as a source of community pride."

To commemorate the first anniversary of the accord signing, Te Takere in Levin is hosting a display this week including the original accord, taonga from Muaupoko and photos of the lake through history.

A book is also available for the public to sign to mark their commitment to the Lake Horowhenua Accord.

Manawatu Standard