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Local Government

Some news on the Cooks Beach storm water retention lakes

Brett Houston of Thames Coromandel District will meet with three representatives of the Mercury Bay South Residents and Ratepayers (MBSRR) next Monday, 13 May, regarding some forward steps to resolve the problems to do with the two lakes at Cooks Beach. 
 |  The Informer  | 

This photo was taken in October 2023 and is worse now.

The representatives Paul Hopkins (Chair), Steve Lloyd, and Dave Baardman have expressed frustration and impatience on behalf of their community. The problem or issue is clearing the two lakes of the nutrient rich sediment which has created a visually unattractive and odorous site for residents and holiday makers as well as the sludge taking up a metre depth of the lakes which is not desirable for a storm water region water body. It would be a health risk for anyone thinking of swimming.

TCDC ceased spraying some time ago as the spray had really just killed off the top level and increased the sludge. Post cyclone work took attention away from this issue by TCDC. The MBSRR had prepared a proposal well before the cyclones making some  solid suggestions which have been countered by an ensuing number of meetings and emails.

A timeline:

First there was a consultants report almost a year after the Cooks Beach team had put in their proposal. This consultant’s report was not well researched, did not manage to get the correct species of carp to investigate in their report back to council. That would have been a costly exercise. Then there was a diving company from Hamilton whose equipment could not cope with the degree of sludge, and recently, NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), commenced a review of the Report and Restoration Programme provided by Submerged Environment and Scientific Dive Services (the diving company referred to above who spent two days doing investigation).

Before the diving colony and NIWA, the Cooks Beach team  did organise a  meeting between the MBSRR and TCDC reps with a carp expert Gray Jamieson, Director of NZ Waterways Restoration (NZWRA), and who is the only DOC and MPI approved supplier of the grass (Silver) Carp in New Zealand.

He had not been consulted by the previous commissioned consultants contracted by Council despite other councils and organisations taking up these fish as a solution to the plant over-proliferation and reducing the nutrient levels.

TCDC staff remain most hesitant  as to what would happen to native plants with the carp and are thus resistant to the proposal from the Cooks Beach team on behalf of the residents.

The priority is in the CEO’s recent words, ‘Finalise a Lake Management Plan between – from July to September’ and ‘Continue to engage with the local community on this work.

I have asked our Infrastructure and Community Management teams to follow up.’

All of this has cost a great deal of time and money  – all of it ratepayer’s money.

The three representatives have given a huge amount of volunteer time and their expertise.

The luxury of two small lakes requiring so much expense with a lack of decision making over such a long period is hard to justify.  No private business could survive.  The solution to find a cost-effective means to keep the nutrient levels down and create two cleaner bodies of water remains before the community.

With this background, there is a sense now that things must be resolved.

There will be a report following this important discussion to take place on Monday, 13 May at TCDC rooms in Whitianga.  A new incoming Project Manager, who is newly recruited to TCDC, will be part of the ‘finding a resolution’ process.