A $1.27 million fund established for the cleanup of Lake Horowhenua has been described as a "turning point" in the waterway's history.
The restoration fund, which includes a $540,000 contribution from the Government, was announced in Levin yesterday by Environment Minister Amy Adams.
"This is a lake that's nowhere near where it should be, a lake that's suffered years and years of mistreatment," she said.
"This is the beginning of a whole new chapter in the history of the lake."
Also contributing to the cleanup fund are Horizons Regional Council, Horowhenua District Council, DairyNZ and the Tararua Growers Association.
Together they will fund a suite of activities including stream fencing, planting, building a wetland, harvesting lake weeds and developing farm plans.
Native fish will benefit from a fish pass and restoration work to improve the link between the lake and the sea via the Hokio Stream. A washdown facility for boats is also planned for a site near the lake.
Mrs Adams said the lake had been subject to "more than 100 years of misuse" and it would take many years to repair the damage.
The lake is one of the most polluted in New Zealand, with a report from Niwa scientist Max Gibbs several years ago stating the water, at certain times of the year, could potentially kill a small child or dog.
Mrs Adams said the lake was the seventh waterway to receive Government support through the Fresh Water Clean Up Fund, a list that includes the Manawatu River.
Part of the reason the lake received money from the fund was that the Lake Horowhenua Accord had support from iwi.
Accord chairman and Lake Horowhenua trustee Matthew Sword said the state of the lake was a source of anger, fear and sadness for the Muaupoko people.
Yesterday's announcement was a turning point, he said.
"It's time to move beyond grievance mode and look at innovative solutions."
Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said the projects undertaken as part of the freshwater cleanup fund package were only one part of a wider cleanup strategy led by the Lake Horowhenua Accord partners.
"This is just one step in the process and we will continue to work with the accord partners to restore the lake to its former healthy state," he said.
"Lake Horowhenua is a valuable asset for our region, not only recreationally but also culturally and economically. As the lake is restored, it will once again become a key part of our community and a place that we can be proud of."
Some of the work, such as riparian planting and fencing, was already under way while other steps, such as installing a system to treat the stormwater that flows into the lake, would take time.
Cr Gordon said he expected improvements in the lake's health to be noticeable by next summer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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