A combined effort by the council, farmers and community has cleaned up Lake Rotorua:
Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo is applauding the work of farmers and the wider community, which has seen Lake Rotorua improve beyond the target set by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in its regional water and land plan.
“We are not going to take all of the credit here because farming was never the entire problem. It is however a triumph for the whole community,” says Neil Heather, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.
“The latest water testing of Lake Rotorua shows the Trophic Level Index (TLI), which measures the amount of nutrients in the lake, has fallen to 4.1. This means Lake Rotorua has average water quality but in the time it has taken, average, is in fact, excellent.
“We started out with a lake that had poor water quality so we are trending in the right direction. The lake is now below the 4.2 target the regional council had set for it.
“The regional council’s original modelling said things were going to get worse before they got better. That’s the concern I have for other areas going down this track. Despite what the model said we knew things were improving but farmers still caught flack in the media.
Poor farming practices can be partly blamed for poor water quality, but they are not usually the only culprits:
“As part of the learnings, we now know gorse leaches some 50 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare and that is more than a dairy farm. Even pine plantations generate four kilograms per hectare each year and these show how varied the effects on water can be.
“It is why we must celebrate what the community, council and farmers have achieved together. This is not down to one good year, but is part of an improving trend since we are all doing things better.
“There’s the land based treatment of the District’s human and industrial sewage as well as farmers fencing off stock and capturing nutrients, later recycled as liquid fertiliser.
“Being a Rotorua farmer, I am really proud of my community and we should all take a bow, town and country together. . .
Collaboration between councils, farmers and the community is the best way to achieve cleaner water.
Farmers have a responsiblity to minimise nutrient run-off, keep stock from water ways, manage effluent and do whatever else they can to keep water clean.
But improving water quality requires a team effort and the improved state of Lake Rotorua shows what can be achieved when people work together.