Vow to fix gem of a lake

By Don Farmer -
6 comments
DECEIVING: Henley Lake is a beautiful sight at sunrise but has underlying problems. PHOTO/FIL
DECEIVING: Henley Lake is a beautiful sight at sunrise but has underlying problems. PHOTO/FIL

Persistent problems with water flow at Henley Lake which have bugged Masterton District Council for years has led to a determined bid to overcome them once and for all.

At a meeting this week councillors unanimously agreed to seek feedback from ratepayers on the lake's water woes and voted $500,000 to be included in a future draft annual plan to help in the battle to fix the lake.

That money would mostly likely be used to modify the intake and install a lift station adjacent to the lake to pump water into it from the Ruamahanga River.

Consent for the lift station would need to be granted by Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The low water flow into the lake has been aggravating the council for at least five years and has worsened in the past year, resulting in chronic proliferation of blue-green algae, which is toxic -- especially to dogs -- and has seriously impacted on summertime recreation.

Assets manager David Hopman told councillors the "trigger" for bringing the matter to their attention was two-fold.

It was time to renew water take resource consents for the lake -- issued by Greater Wellington Regional Council -- and the lake was presenting some "real challenges" due to river levels dropping dramatically.

"The river has dropped a metre and a half in places and this summer was the worst on record. Looking forward I can't see the river changing significantly," he said.

The main water supply into the lake is from the Ruamahanga River. The water is diverted about 600m upstream from the Te Ore Ore road bridge and flows along a diversion channel to the main lake outlet.

Mr Hopman said there was no formalised easement agreement for a water race which feeds the lake from private property which brought a potential risk should the property owner choose to discontinue the informal agreement.

"If the property was sold we could be left high and dry. I feel we have got to move on this as Henley Lake is a gem, one of our most successful projects but it lacks water."

Mr Hopman said there are options regarding fixing the water issue "but they don't come cheap". A lift station would work along the same lines as the one installed to feed water into the lake in Queen Elizabeth Park but the downside of it was there would be ongoing electricity costs, he said.

Mayor Lyn Patterson said the council had to find a long term solution to Henley Lake's problems.

"It won't be easy but just because it isn't easy does not mean we shouldn't do it. We can't give up on Henley Lake," she said.

Deputy mayor Graham McClymont supported seeking public feedback and investigating options for the lake.

"Having been involved in moving an island in the lake I got a good understanding of how the water intake works," he said.

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