The first resource consent to help improve Lake Rotorua's water quality under Plan Change 10 has been issued by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
The current load of nitrogen entering Lake Rotorua is calculated at 755 tonnes, contributing to its degrading water quality.
This load needs to be reduced to 435 tonnes by 2032 to ensure that the water quality is improved, with 70 per cent of the catchment target met by 2022.
Under Plan Change 10, 140 tonnes of the required sustainable reduction will be achieved by reducing nitrogen leaching from pastoral land.
These rules are just one part of the solution to reduce nitrogen entering the lake by a total of 320 tonnes per year.
Other solutions include removing 100 tonnes through the $40 million Lake Rotorua Incentives Programme to buy voluntary land use change, 30 tonnes through the $2 million Gorse Conversion project and also removing 50 tonnes of nitrogen through engineering initiatives.
There are roughly 95 farm enterprises over 40ha in the Lake Rotorua Catchment that need resource consents now to comply with Plan Change 10, which mean farmers need to show how they will meet their allocated nitrogen limits to help improve Lake Rotorua's water quality.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said as well as the first consent issued, more were being processed.
The first resource consent was a milestone for both the local community and Lake Rotorua, he said.
"We are now into the action phase of this process. After years of planning, consultation and policy we are seeing results and working towards a cleaner and better Lake Rotorua. I applaud these first landowners for working with our staff; it shows they are conscious of their nitrogen use and what it means for our local community."
Leeder acknowledged that profitable farming was important to the community, but so was a healthy lake for future generations.
"This means we need to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the lake now. We know this will be hard for some farmers but we are here to help them through this process."
Landowners are able to work with independent land use advisers to explore land management options to help them meet their required reduction targets.
Nitrogen Management Plans, which are required for resource consent, are also funded through the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Programme advice and support service.
Most other properties between 10 and 40ha will need resource consent from 2022.