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12 million dollars to clean up Lake Ellesmere, New Zealand's most polluted lake.

Almost $12 million was committed yesterday by the Government, Environment Canterbury (ECan), Fonterra and Ngai Tahu, to be spent on measures including native planting, fencing and scientific research. Speaking yesterday at the tiny Ngati Moki Marae near Ellesmere's edge, Environment Minister Nick Smith said the focus would be on reducing nutrients from agricultural runoff, which would require a tougher approach on rogue farmers. Some lakeside land would have to be bought, he said.

"There are areas that are too fragile, too close to the lake and need to be taken out of production and replanted back into lake species that will support water quality," he said.

A study last year by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research named Ellesmere as the most polluted of 140 lakes.

Smith said it would be New Zealand's most difficult lake cleanup – following multimillion-dollar water quality initiatives announced for Lake Taupo and the Rotorua Lakes last year.

The Government's $6.1m for Ellesmere over two years was a "very significant first step", he said, but the job may not be finished for 25 to 30 years

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