A new long-term solution for discharge of recovered wastewater is being collaboratively worked on by three stakeholders.
Rotorua Lakes Council, CNI Iwi Holdings and Te Arawa Lakes Trust have agreed to work together, the council said in a statement.
In response to significant iwi and community opposition to the current proposal to discharge treated wastewater to Lake Rotorua via a land contact bed, CNI has offered the temporary use of a set area of land within Whakarewarewa Forest, while work continues towards developing a long-term solution that will not include use of the forest land, the statement said.
The agreement - Puarenga Catchment of Te Rotoruanui-a-Kahumatamomoe – follows extensive discussion and careful consideration by the parties to find the right outcome for mana whenua and the wider Rotorua community.
As a result of the agreement, the council is seeking approval from the Environment Court to withdraw current consent applications before the court, relating to the proposed upgrade of Rotorua city's wastewater treatment plant, and proposed discharge of wai tātari to Lake Rotorua via a culturally-designed land contact bed.
The statement said the parties had submitted a joint memorandum to the Environment Court outlining what had been agreed and were awaiting a response from the court.
The parties had agreed to a Sustainable Forest Approach including upgrading the council's wastewater treatment plant, and the short- to medium-term continuation of discharging treated wastewater in Whakarewarewa Forest.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the agreement was a Te Arawa-led arrangement in the best interests of the community, to enable work to continue on the best possible long-term solution.
"It is a hugely significant development and I thank the parties for their willingness to come together to enable us to get to this point.
"A lot of constructive work followed agreement to get out of the forest but we knew the discharge proposal was unacceptable to many, despite our best efforts, and council committed to still keep looking for alternatives."
Te Arawa Lakes Trust chairman Dr Sir Toby Curtis said the agreement was the result of extensive mahi by all three parties – driven by the guiding desire to develop the right solution for Te Arawa, the environment and the community.
"Our focus is much wider than our environmental mandate, with social, economic and cultural objectives also a critical part of our mahi and decision-making.
"Te Arawa Lakes Trust takes its role as hungatiaki of the lakes extremely seriously. We have acknowledged and supported the genuine concerns of local hapū around the original proposal."