Lake Horowhenua Pollution Under Spotlight…Yet Again

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

Lake Horowhenua is in the spotlight again because the  Horowhenua District Council has finally submitted its resource consent application to discharge stormwater in Levin, says Veronica Harrod.

She reports Regional Council Horizons is expected to allow a request by Horowhenua District Council’s (HDC’s) chief executive David Clapperton for more time to undertake ‘consultation with iwi, directly affected parties and other stakeholders’ because a cultural impacts

Horowhenua Council CEO David Clapperton

assessment is one of 19 requests for further information.

Stormwater a major concern

Many of the 19 requests for further information to accompany HDC’s December 2018 Levin Global Storm water Discharge Consent relate to the effect of storm water on Lake Horowhenua and affected waterways.

This includes an ‘assessment of impacts of the proposed activity on aquatic life in the Lake and in the Arawhata and Patiki Streams.’

A November 2018 Horizons report, “confirmed the Arawhata is currently the major contributor of sediment…contributing between 48 and 75 percent of the sediment to the lake. In addition, the sediment accumulation rates have increased in recent times.”

Questions about further contamination

Vivienne Taueki is one of many local Maori worried about pollution at Lake Horowhenua ( photo — Murray Wilson, Manawatu Standard)

The Horowhenua Council also has to address how stormwater is contributing to nutrient and contaminant loads in the lake and how the proposed activity does not contribute to a further decline of water quality in Lake Horowhenua — and (how it) will improve water quality.

Horizons said the sediment quality study included in HDC’s application, “was not designed to assess the stormwater impact on lake sediment” and asked HDC to provide data, “showing the effect of the stormwater discharge on lake and stream sediments.”

Horizons said, as the HDC attributes some contaminant levels to industrial sites in its application this means contaminants are entering the discharge via the stormwater network; and this means these should be included in the consent.

Public concern about Horizon’s shortcomings

There is public uncertainty about how the application will be processed in light of Horizons own shortcomings as a statutory authority.

Horizons One Plan has been operating since December, 2014.  But in 2016 Wellington Fish and Game Council and the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) won an Environment Court case that Horizons was not giving legal effect to its own One Plan rules on intensive farming activities, the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Furthermore, the Environment Court described a Horizons Council 25 June 2013 resolution not to apply its own One Plan rules for intensive farming land uses as ‘unlawful, invalid and in contravention of the RMA.’

The resolution has since been revoked.

Environment Minister David Parker

But Environment Minister David Parker became involved after no progress was made by Horizons since the Environment Court decision in 2016 meaning many agricultural and dairying farms are still operating without resource consents.

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