September 5, 2008

Opposition to Rotorangi Level Plans; Hearing Probably Needed, Says TRC

By EVANS, Ryan


* Future water allocation from upstream areas, including Stratford's water supply.

* Lower lake levels affecting the area's natural character and recreational activities on the lake.

* Altered river flows below Patea Dam.

* A negative impact on fish.

* Cultural issue.


LAKE Rotorangi and Patea River users are upset over a proposal that will allow Trust Power to lower water levels in the lake.

Trust Power is applying to renew and alter resource consents for the Patea hydro-electric scheme, but its plans have been opposed by nine different groups.

Those groups include industrial, recreational, tourism, cultural, conservation and water supply interests.

The Taranaki Regional Council is in pre-hearing talks with the affected parties, but consents manager Colin McLellan says he expects a hearing will be needed to resolve the issues.

Yesterday, the council pencilled in a start date of February 9 for a hearing, which is expected to last a week.

Under existing rules Trust Power is allowed to drop the level of Lake Rotorangi to a minimum of 74m (above seal level) in the "winter" period between May and October each year.

During the "summer" period, lake levels must be kept to a minimum of 76m.

The new rules would see the 74m minimum level allowed from March to November, shortening the summer period to three months.

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