'Putrid' lakes to be left to fester for another year

"This is now the second or third report, it should have been done and dusted by now"

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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Cold water has been poured on the proposal to pump more money into improving the water quality of Pukekura Park's lakes.

The New Plymouth District Council monitoring committee instead recommended re-tendering the project's contract, estimated at $1.2 million, be considered as part of the long-term plan.

Chairman Craig McFarlane said the committee believed it was better to consider the project alongside all other proposed projects during the long-term plan.

Need for improvements to the water quality was identified in the Pukekura Park Management Plan 2004 and work was carried out in July 2013.

Repairs to the lake edge were successfully completed in September 2013.

However, the main contractor was unable to complete the sediment removal work as their equipment was not suited to the "significant and unexpected gross contamination" in the lakes.

Park benches, coffee machines and car batteries were among the inorganics found in the lake.

The main contractor was in the process of submitting an alternative method when their sediment removal sub-contractor ceased trading.

Research had shown the sediment levels of copper, lead and zinc were above the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council guidelines.

If left untreated, it would result in "continued accumulation of organic and inorganic contaminants and heavy metals".

Persistent weed growth and anaerobic settlement would cause odour issues in the summer. Boats would also have a hard time navigating the main lake as it would be too shallow for rowing.

Keith Allum said there was no rush in getting the project completed. "Because we have got the forebays and wetlands in place, we can take more time to consider how we'll set it out."

John McLeod said the contractors should have known there would be "general garbage" in the lake.

He said the Bowl of Brooklands lake had shopping carts in it. "This lake should've been no different. It should have been a given that it was in there. To default and say ‘I didn't know the garbage was in there', I felt it was very wrong."

McLeod was also unhappy about how the discussion had progressed. "This is now the second or third report, it should have been done and dusted by now."

Deputy chairperson Marie Pearce said the lake has got "more and more" unclean over the years.

"If we delay the work, I think the sediments will build up even more."

Gordon Brown said it was appropriate for the park's future to be considered under the council's next long-term plan.

"The reality is yes, Pukekura Park is a jewel in the crown but the water is not a great part of it."

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Visitors neither swam nor drank from the lake, Brown said.

"They actually go in boats, and they look at it and they photograph it. It's been putrid for years. I don't see big dramas in delaying it for another year," he said.

The recommendation will be put forward to the full council on May 6 for a decision.

- Taranaki Daily News

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