Our AGM in January was well attended as you will see from the minutes included in this News-letter and there was some robust discussion on a number of issues. Two of last years committee (Mike Bannister and Blair Gilbert) did not stand for this year but the rest of the committee are back again. Our thanks to both Mike and Blair for their contribution and support and also to Megan Douglas who stepped down during last year. The rest of my report was included in the AGM presentation and for those people unable to attend the meeting it is a summary of 2013 and projects for 2014.
We have now completed our first full year managing the DOC Okareka Camp Ground off Millar Road and it is pleasing to report the financial return we receive from DOC has exceeded expectations and will be used in part to fund the walkway from Boyes Beach to the DOC camp ground and other environmental enhancing projects. The roster of volunteers managing the maintenance, cleaning, guest details and money collection etc is very efficiently organized by Sandra Goodwin to whom we owe a special thank you for the time and effort that goes into this camp. Support from Landcare Okareka volunteers has also been invaluable.
The Regional Council is continuing to evaluate the options to upgrade the Outlet Structure through to Lake Tarawera and details are as follows:
- Closed circuit TV investigation of the outlet pipeline showed severe deterioration of surfaces and joints affecting hydraulic performance and the pipeline estimate of its remaining life is less than 5 years.
- The pipe from the outlet to the control valve is scheduled for replacement in the 2014 financial year and staff are currently finalizing cost estimates, detailed design and the consents required.
- Other control measures such as a weir are a possibility as is electronic replacement of the manual control valve. We hope a more efficient outlet structure and lake level control will reduce erosion around the lake.
A major project for LOCA has been to improve the Reserve Area at the boat launch jetty area to ensure the possibility of accidents to swimmers and boats is minimized. To this end we conducted a comprehensive survey of residents and users of the area and plans etc have been detailed in our quarterly newsletters and on site meetings held with the District/Regional Councils, Te Arawa, DOC and the Harbourmaster. The multi use of the area and need to keep it aesthetically appealing has been a challenge and progress has been slower than hoped, however with safety issues, erosion problems and the rapid spread of Raupo, it is a priority for the committee.
A Telco consortium (Vodafone, Telecom, Chorus and 2 degrees) has identified a site for a Cell Phone Tower on Playnes Farm that will give mobile reception to Tarawera, Oka-reka and Tikitapu. A contract with the farm is still to be finalized and apart from the ob-vious benefits mobile coverage will bring to residents, tourists and the business community, saving lives is a compelling reason for us all to support this project.
The continuing growth of tourism and events around the Lakes with more and more traffic over the summer holidays continues to be of real concern at the Blue Lake. We have asked RDC to consider speed limits, summer events etc in an effort to minimize the risk of accidents.
Once again we would like to draw attention to our concern that despite the PR spin from the Regional Council a TLI target of 3.0 for water quality at Okareka does not give us a Clean Lake. We will be 15% more polluted than Tikitapu, Okataina and Tarawera and 30% more polluted than Rotoma.
There appears to be no decision as yet on whether the large area of the noxious weed Hornwort will be eradicated or only contained by the Regional Council. Obviously any decision short of total eradication will be very disappointing. As a result of the Hornwort discovery there seems no compelling reason for the weed cordon to be retained if there is to be ongoing spraying of the lakebed and I’m sure many residents would welcome the removal of a “visual eyesore”.
We also continue to be concerned at damage to the native forests in the area (Okataina in particular) caused by wallabies/possums etc and the resulting detrimental impact on water quality. Can we please have some action from the Regional Council and not more “research” as proposed in the Action Plan?
The Lake Okareka Newsletter is an excellent vehicle for us to update residents and owners of holiday homes on activities and matters of interest in the catchment. Advertisers cover the cost of printing and we are planning to go to full colour this year which will reduce the time involvement of our dedicated editor, Maria Haines. Maria has a full time job but puts in more than 30 hours on each of the quarterly Newsletters so it will be a win win outcome.
It is also pleasing to note the continuing involvement of Volunteers with Landcare Okareka, the LOCA website, Okareka Fire Force, Lake Wardens, tennis courts (60 juniors), fishing competitions, Forest and Bird activities, neighbourhood support and of course the very popular Preschool.
We look forward to 2014 with Rotorua having a new Mayor and CEO already consulting with residents on a long term vision for the District. Affordable rates, new property valuations and changes to the District Plan will all be watched with interest.
The Lakes Community Board together with the ratepayer associations at Tarawera and Okareka are working with RDC on changing the opening hours at the Tarawera Trans-fer Station from two half days a week to 24/7 every day of the year. A very successful trial was in place over the summer holidays but changes are yet to be agreed to by Council.
Plans for the Walkway from Boyes Beach to the DOC campground have been “work in progress” for LOCA for more than 5 years due in part to the environmental requirements of DOC and the Lakes “A” zone but hopefully these have now all been signed off and we will be making a start this year. LOCA has had a busy year and I am fortunate in having a very supportive committee.
Thank you team and in particular Sandra our competent and tireless secretary. Also thank you to the many residents and supporters who volunteer their services to help make Okareka a special place to live and play.