18 May 2018
Caption: The Lake Ōkāreka water level is already high and exceeds the target range now by more than 200mm after recent weather events. Photo: Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Bay of Plenty Regional Council is about to invoke the emergency works provisions of the Resource Management Act to address rising lake levels around the Rotorua region going into winter.
Council is taking this action before the winter months for two reasons.
The Lake Ōkāreka water level is already high and exceeds the target range now by more than 200mm after recent weather events.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Lakes Operation Manager Andy Bruere said it was difficult to predict what risk to homes and infrastructure there was over winter.
"It is expected that lake levels will keep rising and if Council undertakes to discharge a higher flow rate now, it is likely that we can address the risk of high lake levels while discharging a lower flow in the Waitangi Stream."
This would have the impact of reducing potential damage to the stream through the winter, he said.
The second reason was if lake levels continued to rise, as Council expected during winter, and homes were at risk of flooding then Bay of Plenty Regional Council would have limited ability to respond in a meaningful way.
"Our ability to lower the lake is restricted by the outlet pipeline and the auxiliary pump that we installed last year," Mr Bruere said.
"In effect, a major storm event can raise the lake level up to 250mm in a single day where our ability to lower the lake is limited to less than 10mm per day."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council is required to obtain consent for the ongoing emergency works. Work will begin today.
In addition, Council is working with the communities around Lake Ōkāreka and Lake Tarawera to find a long-term solution to this problem. This work will be ongoing.