Taupo boat owners are supporting Environment Waikato’s moves to prevent sewage discharges to the Lake.
The Council has asked owners to remove boat outlets which allow them to discharge sewage directly to the Lake.
Last week’s Regulatory Committee meeting heard that historically, boats had discharged raw sewage directly to the Lake. Environmental Services Programme Manager Rob Dragten said discharging untreated sewage was prohibited and offenders were committing an offence, however enforcement meant people needed to get “caught in the act”, which was difficult.
Staff investigating a complaint found that some boats were able to discharge sewage from holding tanks through a subsurface outlet. The outlet was common on boats brought to the Lake from a marine environment, where discharges of sewage were permitted in some situations.
The below-waterline discharge pipe was unacceptable for a boat operated on the Lake, allowing the owner to discharge with little risk of being caught, he said. Boat owners had been asked to remove pipes a move which was supported by most commercial boat owners.
People attending Taupo mooring variation meetings had told the Council that sewage pump-out facilities needed to be improved. There were four facilities at Taupo, Kinloch, Turangi/Tokaanu and Motuoapa.
A longer term solution needed a co-ordinated approach from Environment Waikato, Taupo District Council and the Department of Internal Affairs and was one component of the overall strategy for managing water quality in Lake Taupo. Regulatory changes may be needed to protect the Lake, he said.
Cr Jenni Vernon said she was concerned about recreational boats. The issue needed to be brought to the attention of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government New Zealand. Chairman Jim Howland said a national approach was needed to achieve consistency.