The poor water quality is unfortunate, as the lake is in a spectacular setting. The surrounding land use is predominantly sheep/beef farming, some forestry and park with soil conservation plantations. The Guthrie Smith Trust Arboretum is on the highway side of the lake, DOC reserves are nearby (White Pine Bush, Boundary Stream), Lake Opouahi wildlife reserve is nearby, and Waipatiki Beach with holiday camp and one of Hawke's Bay's 'Top 5' beaches for water quality.
The toxic algal blooms are linked to heavy rainfall bringing sediment and nutrients off the steep hill country, and stored in the lake depths. Cyanobacteria (blue-green) algae is naturally occuring in water ways and can bloom rapidly. Cercarial dermatitis (Duck itch) has also been found in the shallows and could recurr without warning.