New Year action on lake cleanup

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 09:00 04/01/2014

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A number of visible changes are expected at Lake Horowhenua in the first months of 2014 as work on the waterway's cleanup picks up steam.

The lake is one of the most polluted in the country. A report by a Niwa scientist in 2012 said at certain times of the year its water could kill a dog or small child.

Lake Accord chairman Matt Sword said the five members of the Lake Horowhenua Accord had taken steps since signing the agreement in August and more work was planned this year.

Accord members were also seeking funding from the Government to assist with the cost of projects.

Mr Sword said a location for a boat wash-down facility at the lake, which would help stop the spread of weeds into and out of the lake, was being explored and a potential site was to be announced soon.

The weir that controls the lake level where it drains into the Hokio Stream was preventing fish from migrating downstream, Mr Sword said.

As a solution, Horizons staff have designed a fish pass for the weir, with plans to have it built and installed in the coming months.

Mr Sword said a detailed Lake Restoration Strategy will be presented in the near future.

"However, the efforts so far are a fantastic start towards returning the lake to a healthy state. It is early days and we are looking forward to ramping up our efforts in the coming months," he said.

That "fantastic start" included the resumption of water quality and lake level monitoring at the lake by Horizons Regional Council.

Other work included planting more than 2000 native shrubs and trees alongside the Hokio and Arawhata streams by Muaupoko. Some 2.5km of protective fencing had also been completed.

The accord, committed to by the Lake Horowhenua Trust, Lake Domain Board, Horowhenua District Council, Horizons Regional Council and the Department of Conservation, has a 20-year time frame and includes a series of goals and actions for the lake and Hokio Stream.

Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy said he was delighted with the progress made in 2013. "It's a brilliant result so far and these achievements bring us that bit closer to a fantastic outcome."

Lake advocate Phil Taueki, who has worked for a decade to clean up Lake Horowhenua but is not part of the accord, has been critical of its performance, saying several times that it had not achieved anything since it was signed. He has warned that the accord would fail as previous agreements had.

After an appeal against an assault charge at the lake was dismissed by the Supreme Court a fortnight ago Mr Taueki vowed to take matters into his own hands by preventing boats from launching at the lake.

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- Manawatu Standard

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