The Environment Court today approved the resource consent for the operation of the Okere Gates at Lake Rotoiti and Ohau Weir at Lake Rotorua, after a negotiated agreement was reached by several parties.
The resource consent requires Bay of Plenty Regional Council to manage, maintain and monitor the Gates and Weir, and to work with the community on environmental management of the area.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Environmental Hazards Group Manager Ken Tarboton said the agreement balances social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing.
“The 35 year resource consent includes several requirements for ongoing monitoring of the environmental and cultural impacts of the Gates and Weir,” Mr Tarboton said.
“Two Kaitiaki Groups and the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Operational Liaison Group will be established to provide a voice for the community, with support from Regional Council, to ensure that interested community members can have input into the monitoring and management of the Okere Gates and Ohau Weir.”
Roku Mihinui, Chief Executive Officer of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust said the Trust is pleased with the open process that had been followed throughout the consent.
“We look forward to the continued good relationship with the Regional Council and local iwi in the future,” Mr Mihinui said.
The previous resource consent expired in June 2010. The application for a renewal of the Okere Gates consent was appealed to the Environment Court by local iwi Ng?ti Pikiao.
Fish and Game New Zealand officer Matt Osborne said they joined in the negotiation during the consent process to address their concerns about the links between lake levels and how these affected the popular Ohau Channel fishery.
“Fish and Game were pleased to be involved in the process and the new lake level conditions should have slight ecological benefits for the Lake Rotoiti fishery - the consent provides a mechanism for us to better understand these in the future,” Mr Osborne said.
Hilary Prior of the Lake Rotoiti Community Association (LRCA) said that throughout the process of the renewal of the consents, Lake Rotoiti Community Association has considered the wellbeing of the lake to be paramount.
“LRCA believes that the consented operating regime will be beneficial to the welfare of the lake, its bird life and its community at large,” Ms Prior said
In accordance with consent conditions, Regional Council will develop an operational management plan for the Gates and Weir and facilitate community involvement through the formation of the Kaitiaki groups and the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Operational Liaison Group. Regional Council will report annually through these groups.
The terms of the resource consent may be reviewed if needed to ensure that it continues to balance the needs of all stakeholders.
All parties look forward to working together for the benefit of the community and the environment.
The Okere Gates were constructed in 1982 to regulate the flow of water from Lake Rotoiti into the Kaituna River to control lake levels preventing lakeside flooding and extreme low water levels. The Ohau Weir was constructed in 1989 to provide a degree of control over lake level fluctuations in Lake Rotorua.
For more information about the Okere Gates and Ohau Weir, please visit www.boprc.govt.nz > environment > water > rotorua lakes > okere gates and ohau weir