Waikato Regional Council has today agreed to adopt and sign a deed for the long-term monitoring of the world-leading Lake Taupo Protection Project.
The decision comes as the project enters the home straight in terms of achieving its target for reducing nitrogen getting into the lake.
Nitrogen from surrounding land can leach into the water and stimulate the growth of algae which affects lake health.
The project has been steadily working towards a 170.3 tonnes a year reduction in nitrogen inputs. A report to today’s council meeting said the project was on course to this year fully meet this target.
Currently the project has secured nitrogen reductions of more than 150 tonnes a year through a variety of mechanisms, including paying people to end or change land uses. A contract for the remainder is expected be finalised before the end of December.
Efforts to reduce nitrogen in the lake have been supported by more than $80 million from central Government, Waikato Regional Council, and Taupo District Council (TDC).
After the 170.3 tonnes target is met there will be ongoing monitoring of land use to ensure the reductions are maintained. The monitoring deed agreed to today will be between the regional council, TDC and the Lake Taupo Protection Trust.
A report to the council said close monitoring of a nitrogen “cap” and adherence to the individual nitrogen discharge allowances (NDAs) of landowners consented under the cap is one of the critical elements of the project to help protect the public’s investment.
Waikato Regional Council is specifically responsible for monitoring the performance of the consents authorising individual NDAs and those land use activities that are permitted under the regional policies to protect the lake, the report said.
Council chairperson Paula Southgate welcomed the progress being made: “It’s great to be getting close to meeting our target and this monitoring regime will be very important for protecting the public investment in keeping the beautiful Lake Taupo healthy.”