Hastings District Council is set to consider a $3.1 million proposal to fill in a controversial manmade lake and turn it into a public wetland and park.
Lowe's Lake hit the headlines during last year's local election campaign when concerns were raised by mayoral candidate Damon Harvey about the potential risk of the lake to the city's drinking water.
A December 2019 independent report by Tonkin and Taylor subsequently found there is "very low risk" of the industry-surrounded lake contaminating drinking water.
But the council has continued to push ahead with investigating how to clean up contaminants and stop stormwater draining into the lake.
Full council will consider the latest report, and two options to rejuvenate the lake, at a meeting on Tuesday.
The recommendation for councillors is to adopt the first of the two - a conversion of about 25 per cent of the lake into a wetland.
The rest of the pit would be filled and covered to be used for another purpose such as a public amenity park.
Pollution traps would aim to keep the wetland water as clean as possible.
"This option would provide an opportunity to greatly improve the appearance and utility of the surrounding area whilst providing enhancements for the community and improving ecological and cultural stormwater outcomes," the agenda for the meeting reads.
"An added benefit of creating usable land from the reclamation process is the potential to separate this off and sell the land providing a future financial return on the community's investment."
The cost estimate of this option, which could be executed in three stages, is $3.1m.
The second option is $1.5m of stormwater mitigation, which includes putting controls on the sources of the stormwater draining into the lake, treatment devices, end-of-pipe treatment and first-flush diversion.
This option could be completed within the first half of 2021.
Funding of $2m has been proposed for the project as part of the annual plan.
REGION'S WETLANDS TO GET A BOOST
Wetlands and waterways in Hawke's Bay are set to benefit from a portion of $10m of government funding for large-scale tree planting.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor and Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced the investment aimed at providing jobs in communities and improving the environment.
The funding, from the One Billion Trees Fund, will aim to ensure the right tree is planted in the right place for the right purpose.
New, more flexible funding criteria for applications will help up to 10 catchment groups plant landscapes at a whole-of-catchment scale, enabling them to achieve the greatest environmental outcomes.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council group manager integrated catchment management, Iain Maxwell, said the funding is "great news" for the region.
"Hawke's Bay Regional Council is looking at what the details and criteria are, and what the opportunities could be for the region," he said.
"We are already working with individual landowners and supporting them seeking funding from the One Billion Trees fund alongside our Erosion Control Scheme."
Catchment groups will also be able to apply for funding for associated costs, such as land preparation, labour and pest control.
Jones said the funding was primarily designed to increase planting and improve waterways.
"They are a practical example of how this Government is listening to and working with people to support them in their desire to make environmental and freshwater improvements," he said.
"Importantly, as we look to support those affected by the economic fallout from Covid-19, these large-scale planting and restoration initiatives will also provide employment in their communities and support the plant nursery sector."
The revised funding criteria have been expanded to include suitable plants, such as grasses and shrubs, and planting of areas of less than 1ha, to support planting along waterways and in wetlands.
The funding is in addition to the $100m from the Provincial Growth Fund for waterway fencing, riparian planting and stock-water reticulation.
The Ministry of Primary Industries is also working with a wide range of catchment groups around New Zealand to support their work to lift freshwater quality and farming practice.
O'Connor said his goal was to reach up to 2200 farmers across the country over the next three years.
"Catchment groups provide wonderful opportunities for farmers to support and learn from each other," he said.
"They also provide an avenue for collaborative, grassroots action to resolve local issues, including improving sustainability and improving water quality.
"MPI's extension work is funded through the $229m Productive and Sustainable Land Use package announced in Budget 2019, which includes more than $35m for on-the-ground support via extension services."