A Brief History of LWQS
The LakesWater Quality Society is the name of a long-established and evolving, not-for-profit Society.
In January 1961 concerned residents from Lake Rotoiti met to consider means to rid the Rotorua lakes of invasive weed, and the Lakeweed Control Society was formed.
During the 1960s and 1970s this group, chaired by Leonard Leary QC and supported by a very experienced and able committee, promoted and funded research on control of the oxygen weed, Lagarosiphon, and the effects of those control methods on the environment.
Gradually, the use of Diquat gel for lakeweed control became the standard, and the Society continued to work for ongoing control of aquatic weeds in the Rotorua lakes. They had a keen interest in trials of other control methods and issues, but the focus of the Society remained specifically on lakeweed control.
This situation continued until the late 1990s, when the general public and the Lakeweed Control Society were becoming increasingly uneasy about the water quality of some of the lakes. After considerable discussion, the Lakeweed Control Society decided that whilst maintaining its interest in lakeweed control, their focus would broaden to include water quality issues, and the Lakeweed Control Society was therefore reconstituted as the LakesWater Quality Society Incorporated.
Uncertainty about what was needed to improve the lakes, and turn around their perceived decline, led to the organisation of a 2001 Symposium on ‘Research Needs of the Rotorua lakes’. As well as leading to an increase in research on the lakes, this symposium precipitated the wise and generous endowment by Environment Bay of Plenty of a Chair in Lakes Management and Restoration at Waikato University.
Unfortunately, authorities remained complacent about the state of the lakes. In 2003 when cyanobacterial blooms led to health warnings for all of Lakes Rotoiti and Rotorua, the Society led community advocacy for action. This effort was sustained during 2004 when blooms were again widespread.
By this time Environment BOP and the Rotorua District Council had recognised the severity of the problem, and ‘Action Plans’ were initiated for five the most threatened lakes.
The LakesWater Quality Society works by doing its homework, encouraging research and persuading the authorities to take action. We ran five subsequent highly successful symposia with participation from scientists, land-managers and public authorities.
We also keep a watchful eye on weed spraying and the monitoring of algal blooms.
The LWQS membership reaches well beyond the Rotorua district because people all over NZ appreciate the value of the Rotorua lakes to the environment and the national economy. Although our focus is on the Rotorua lakes we are interested in the status of other NZ lakes and are happy to share our knowledge and experience to assist in other geographical areas.