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Published: 2004-06-30 00:00:00

Regional ratepayers will contribute $9 per property this year to help protect Lake Taupo’s water quality.

The rate is included in the Council's Long-Term Council Community Plan adopted today. It is designed to halt the decline of water quality in the Lake, and is matched with significant contributions from Central Government and Taupo residents.

The money will provide the additional $81.5 million needed over the next 15 years to protect the Lake from the effects of excessive nitrogen inputs from rural and urban land use. The Government has agreed to fund 45 percent of the cost, and ratepayers in the Taupo district will contribute 22 percent. The rest of the Region will contribute 33 percent.

About 1500 submissions were received on the project and support for cleaning up the Lake was strong at 61 percent. Overall, most people recognised the need to clean up the Lake and do it quickly, but many felt they should not have to pay if they did not live in the Taupo area. Others felt that ‘polluters’ should pay more or that the Government should pay more because the Lake is a national asset.

Chairman Neil Clarke said the Government, Environment Waikato and Taupo District Council had carefully considered what was causing the Lake water quality to decline and who would benefit from the project. They believed that the deal reached among the three parties was good for the Lake and cost-effective for Regional ratepayers.

"Never before has the Government agreed to contribute almost half the cost of the project like this. Government was the original developer of much of the land. Its contribution reflects its past role in the pollution effects we see today.

He also noted that compliance costs with the rules that will be part of this project will fall heavily on Taupo farmers.

“Rural landowners will contribute by bearing the significant cost of foregoing opportunities for future land development. Urban residents will also contribute through ongoing costs of sewage treatment and stormwater management.

“Although over the 15-year life of this project we may consider other ways to collect the Regional share, the benefits of protecting the Lake are long term, and will affect many generations of New Zealanders."