Local advocates and councils say progress has been made with the water quality of Rotorua's lakes but more needs to be done.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick says the lakes are taonga, and play a big part in the district's cultural, environmental, health, social and economic wellbeing.

"Water quality is a very high priority. Good progress has been made through the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme and we look forward to the upcoming annual report to see what further progress has been made.

"The council's biggest contribution is through provision of wastewater schemes and infrastructure, including our wastewater treatment plant which is among the best in the country and is tagged for a further upgrade."

Ms Chadwick said ongoing commitment to, and investment in, water quality would be crucial for the Rotorua district.


"That is dependent on contributions from our lakes programme partners and central government.

"We would like to see a continued focus on water quality nationally and continued investment by central government."

Don Atkinson, chairman of the community-based advocacy group Lakes Water
Quality Society, said the water quality, the clarity, of Rotorua's lakes was measured through the Trophic Level Index (TLI).

"An agreed target was set by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council after consultation with residents around 20 years ago, with an aim to return to what it was in the 1960s."

He said substantial progress had been made to the objectives, but not all had been achieved.

"Lake Rotorua is close to the target, achieved through dosing with alum ... but we've got a big fight on our hands to keep catfish out of our lakes, it's a major incursion, we have to do something."

Mr Atkinson said lake weeds were also dominating Rotorua lakes.

The Lakes Water Quality Society is hosting a two-day Lakes Water Quality Society Symposium at the end of this month focusing on freshwater "troublemakers" and pests, and what can be done about them.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme Annual Report contained the water quality results and an overview of all work being undertaken for the lakes of Rotorua.

People can hear directly from Professor David Hamilton when he speaks on "The State of the Rotorua Lakes in 2017" at the symposium.

Mr Leeder said projects such as Plan Change 10 will help the quality of water in Rotorua's lakes.

In what was described as a landmark decision for the future of Lake Rotorua, last week the Bay of Plenty Regional Council unanimously voted to accept a report and
recommendations from the Independent Hearing Panel relating to Plan Change 10.

The plan change introduces rules for rural properties in the Lake Rotorua catchment, limiting the amount of nitrogen entering the lake from land use in order to improve water quality.

Mr Leeder said the proposed land use rules aimed to reduce nitrogen by 140 tonnes in order to meet lake water quality targets set by the community in 2008.

He said the rules were just one part of the solution, with other solutions including removing 50 tonnes of nitrogen through engineering initiatives, 100 tonnes through the $40 million Lake Rotorua Incentives Programme to buy voluntary land use change, and 30 tonnes through the $2m Gorse Conversion project.

When asked what the regional council hoped to see in terms of a commitment to water quality following the general election, Mr Leeder said clear national direction, effective regulatory regimes and a stable national policy framework were key tools for maintaining the momentum on water quality improvement.

"The central government that people vote for will define the legislative and policy framework that the regional council operates within. Our focus is to deliver what our local communities define as most important to them within those set frameworks.

"We're also working with communities to implement the National Policy Statement for Freshwater by developing updates to the Regional Water and Land Plan. The updates will introduce catchment-specific rules and methods, to deliver on localised targets for water quality and quantity."

Robin Parr, commodore of the Rotorua Yacht Club, said he was overall pretty happy with the quality of water in Rotorua.

He said for this time of year Lake Rotorua was "looking pretty good" with a normal amount of lake weed which did tend to increase summer.