Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023
    A Sustainable Management Plan for Rotorua’s Geothermal System Released for Public Feedback

    A draft “care plan” for the sustainable management of the Rotorua Geothermal System has been made available to the public for feedback by Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Developed over the past five years with input from the community and tangata whenua, the plan aims to protect the Rotorua Geothermal System (Ngā Wai Ariki o Rotorua) for future generations.

    The Rotorua Geothermal System Management Plan (SMP) contains vital information, guidance, and actions for the management of the geothermal system. This plan will inform a formal change to the Regional Natural Resources Plan next year, establishing policies and rules for the sustainable management of the system.

    Geothermal energy plays a significant role in Rotorua’s economy, culture, and heritage. It offers tourism, energy, and wellness opportunities while holding cultural and natural significance. The Rotorua Geothermal System is a delicate and intricate system with over 1,500 recorded geothermal surface features. It is still recovering from the past mistreatment, caused by looser regulations and overuse.

    Since the closure of boreholes in 1989, the system has been in recovery. The Regional Council, working with GNS, has been closely monitoring the aquifer pressure and surface features to gauge the system’s health. While the current data indicates stability with existing levels of use, the system is sensitive to external factors like increased usage and climate change. Consistent management is crucial to ensure its long-term health and prevent decline.

    The draft SMP highlights that the system cannot handle unlimited demand for geothermal water, energy, and heat. Overuse poses a risk to the entire system. The Regional Council is responsible for monitoring and regulating geothermal use but emphasizes the importance of a joint effort with the community.

    To gather feedback, the public can visit the Regional Council’s Participate portal online or attend a series of public drop-in sessions in October 2023. The feedback will be reviewed by a joint panel of Bay of Plenty Regional Council and haukāinga representatives before the plan is finalized and adopted next year.

    For more information, research documents, and fact sheets, visit the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s website or contact their team directly.

    Sources:
    Bay of Plenty Regional Council
    The Rotorua Geothermal System Management Plan