Lakes in Tutira are about to get a much needed makeover - albeit an experimental one.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council yesterday announced an 'air curtain' pilot trial in Waikōpiro Lake at Tūtira during summer. If the new innovation works, a larger model will be implemented in the petri dish that is today's Lake Tutira.

Council said the curtain increases oxygen levels at all depths of the lakes by creating a circulation current, "much like bubblers in a fish aquarium".

The technology has reportedly had successful precedents at Kerikeri's Lake Manuwai and Auckland reservoirs.


The initiative, Te Waiū o Tūtira, "the milk of Tūtira" is a collaboration between council and Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust, with the goal to "restore the mauri of Lakes Tūtira and Waikōpiro, making a place that families can happily return to, and where children can swim".

It's a welcome new direction for the beleaguered twin lakes. The scenery, come autumn, materialises as our own Southern Hemisphere Lake District, and is without parallel in this province. But it's as picturesque as it is poisoned.

Lake Tutira has sparked a litany of headlines and warnings from authorities not to swim - look but don't touch.

Apparently the lake floors hold a "legacy" load of sediment with nutrients that continue to feed algal blooms.

Legacies - in this case an unwanted one - take a long time to form. This means it'll take a long time, if not a generation, to remedy.

Council chairman Rex Graham said the lakes are "the centrepiece of a spectacular area, with so many outdoor recreation and adventure opportunities so having the water clean and clear again would be a boost to the area". He's spot on.

But then it was always worth it. Why generations of us have left it so long beggars belief.

Rather than being on point, we seem forever destined to embark on rearguard action.

The take home message we're entitled to, despite it being with the luxury of hindsight, is how important it is for citizens and authorities to recognise potential environmental issues before they become expensive, toxic, embarrassing crises.