A new review of the Rotorua Geothermal Regional Plan looks to preserve the precious local resource.
The review, led by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, is focused on keeping a balance between the current use and future development of the geothermal resource.
The Regional Plan set out the rules for the use of the ngāwha resource, including policies, resource allocation and considerations for resource consents.
The local community will have a number of opportunities to provide input to the updated management plan.
Regional Council general manager science and strategy, Namouta Poutasi, said it was imperative that all voices were heard and she wanted people from across the Rotorua community to provide input.
“We need to manage the Rotorua geothermal taonga carefully, so we don’t see a repeat of past mistakes and that we can ensure it can be preserved for future generations to enjoy from a social, cultural and economic point of view,” Poutasi said.
After several decades of unlimited geothermal extraction stemming from the 1950s, many of Rotorua’s natural geothermal features – such as the activity in Kuirau Park and the geysers in Whakarewarewa Valley – began to significantly decline by the 1980s.
As a result, in the mid-late 1980s, the Government imposed the compulsory closure of many bores, instigated a resource consent regime, required reinjection of fluid and established an extraction exclusion zone within 1.5km of the Whakarewarewa geysers.
This management approach was carried over into the Rotorua Geothermal Regional Plan in 1999.
“Research and monitoring indicates that there has been huge progress in the recovery of the field since management of the system changed in the 1980s,” Poutasi said.
As part of the review, the council has identified six key issues for the future management of the ngāwha resource, along with a number of possible objectives and options designed to address these issues.
The council will be holding a number of hui and stakeholder workshops in September to gain input from key stakeholders and the wider public.
There will be two public information drop-in sessions, hosted by council staff, at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Arawa St office on September 9.