The Rotorua Lakes Council has just moved a step closer to a new wastewater treatment plan that will see treated effluent pumped into Lake Rotorua.
The council's Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee unanimously voted in favour of the council's preferred option, which is discharging treated effluent into Lake Rotorua at Puarenga Bay.
However, the committee made a minor change to the recommendation, adding they would continue to look at other discharge options with mana whenua (people of the land) and Te Tatau Board - the council's iwi representative board.
The 13 councillors present voted in favour of the recommendation. Councillors Janet Wepa and Trevor Maxwell were absent from the meeting.
The proposed upgrade follows the council signing a deed with CNI Iwi Holdings to end the spraying of treated wastewater in the Whakarewarewa Forest by the end of 2019.
The recommended option would cost an estimated $29 million.
Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said at this morning's meeting the water that would go out into the lake would be treated to such an extent it would be cleaner than the water coming into the lake from the Awahou Stream.
The Rotorua Daily Post reported today Maori groups who live on the eastern shorelines of Lake Rotorua are vowing to fight the proposed new scheme.
Eastside resident Nireaha Pirika, who affilitates to Ngati Uenukukopako, said his iwi and others that bordered the eastern lake shores were not happy.
They say their whanau swam at Hannah's Bay and areas around Owhata and they would no longer swim there knowing there was treated effluent in the water.
"Would you want to be swimming in water knowing where it has been?"
Mr Pirika said his iwi had been working on their own land-based solution to take to the council using 800ha of Maori land on the ranges opposite and inland from the Rotorua Airport.
They hadn't yet done due diligence on their plan and it was unlikely to meet the deadline.
"They have left the door open to bring back the option to them."
Mr Pirika said he believed the council was wrongly making its decision based on cost, as another land-based option was to cost ratepayers $54 million.
"It is not about putting the best option up."
He said his iwi would still fight any decisions and they planned to oppose the resource consent.
Te Tatau Board members on the council's committee, Ana Morrison and Eugene Berryman-Kamp, were among the 13 who voted in favour of the recommendation.