Plan to Tackle Lake Horowhenua Pollution

Lake Horowhenua — once described as ‘one of the ‘most polluted’ lakes in NZ

Veronica Harrod reports the Regional Council Horizons has approved a request for more funding for an integrated management plan to reduce pollution in Lake Horowhenua.

It is one of several projects that has already received over $2.3 million.

The request for funds, made in a report to Horizons strategy and policy committee on 13 November 13, 2018, says the funds will complete, “an integrated stormwater management plan…to reduce sediment loss from horticultural farms and the stormwater drainage network.”

It said the work, “is outside of the area that is administered by the Lake Trust on behalf of the Beneficial Owners of the lake. This project is largely based on roadsides and private land.”

Lake Accord partners

Lake Accord partners include both local and regional councils, The Department of Conservation, the Lake Domain Board and Lake Horowhenua Trustees.

But the Lake Horowhenua Accord Action Plan 2014-2016 and Environment Ministry both state one of the projects is the “completion of an integrated stormwater management plan for the Arawhata sub-catchment to reduce sediment loss from horticultural farms and the stormwater drainage network.”

Other projects got most of the money

Horizons freshwater and partnerships manager Logan Brown also said, “this was one of the projects that was funded through the Clean-Up fund” but said “the majority of funding” was spent on two other projects including “the sediment trap and the weed harvesting project.”

Funds were also spent on an, “integrated stormwater project…with the majority of the focus on reducing sediment losses from land as well as additional surveying, and increased drainage in a few select areas.”

“This was only ever the start of the project and this proposal is to build on the work that was started,” said Mr Brown.

$1.5 million from Ministry

Lake Accord partners have received $1.5 million from the Environment Ministry, including $540,000 from the Fresh Start for Freshwater Fund and $980,000 from the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund for another Lake Horowhenua project called Te Kakapa Manawa o MuaUpoko; the latter fund has been closed by the Labour-led Government.

Horizons and Horowhenua District Council contributed $842,000 to both funds — $730,000 for clean-up and $112,160 towards the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund-  and received “in-kind support” from agricultural and dairying organisations Tararua Growers Association and DairyNZ.

A June 2008 Hokio Drainage Scheme Review Report states “Water quality in Lake Horowhenua is more affected by catchment-wide nutrient runoff from intensive dairy farming, horticulture and market gardens and polluted urban runoff from Levin.”

In a section on the Hokio Stream and Lake Horowhenua Weir Horizons the 2008n review says, “In any case the whole lake will inevitably act as a large sediment trap, regardless of the outflow level, with most deposition occurring close to the main inflows.”

Future article: Despite receiving funding, an online report card measuring pollution levels at Lake Horowhenua has not been updated by Horizons since 2016

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