Washdown facility needed to save lake

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 13/12/2013

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A photo of a Horizons Regional Council trailer strewn with weeds from Lake Horowhenua shows the urgent need for a washdown facility at the lake, Philip Taueki says.

Mr Taueki, the lake's kaitiaki or guardian, made a presentation to Horizons Regional Council's environment committee on Wednesday.

It included photos, taken last Friday, of a boat trailer behind a Horizons vehicle covered in weeds. The trailer had been used to launch a boat onto the lake for monitoring purposes.

Mr Taueki said the council was well aware that there was no washdown facility at the lake yet it had a sign on the road into the lake asking boat users to wash their craft before and after use.

"There's no washdown facility, where do they wash their boats? At home?" he said.

Horizons says staff follow strict procedures, which include washing boats at a Kairanga depot.

Nonetheless, Mr Taueki touched on a sensitive point.

A recent report by independent environmental consultant Bill Chisholm said the introduction of more weed species to the lake was the biggest threat to the waterway.

If this happened, the lake would "flip", he said, meaning algae could reach such high levels that aquatic life was endangered, and water clarity and colour greatly affected.

Mr Taueki said despite the Chisholm report, which came two years after a Horizons-commissioned report by Niwa scientist Dr Max Gibbs, Horizons was failing in its statutory duty to protect the lake.

Questioned by councillors, Mr Taueki told the committee he had not seen the trailer leave, so was unsure whether it had been cleaned at the lake side.

Towing a contaminated trailer away from the lake would place other waterways at risk, he said.

Later in the meeting, and after Mr Taueki had left, Horizons chief executive Michael McCartney said the council had strict protocols around boat use on the lake.

Boats were washed, with detergent, on a washdown facility at the council's Kairanga depot before they were towed to the lake.

After use the trailer and boat were cleaned by hand before being towed back to Kairanga to be cleaned again.

"It's always cleaned before it's used and it's always cleaned just after it's used," he said.

Council staff were also required to photograph their cleaning efforts and photos of the boat being cleaned last Friday were showed at the meeting.

Lake Horowhenua Accord chairman Matt Sword said a boat washdown facility at the lake was being explored and a potential site would be announced soon.

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- Manawatu Standard

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