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Published: 2017-08-15 08:30:00

Major new environmental gains and ongoing extensive protection for productive land are amongst benefits of a $40 million-plus expenditure programme by Waikato Regional Council.

A report from the council’s integrated catchment management (ICM) team on its 2016-17 directorate spending has outlined a range of those benefits, including:

  • enhancement works on more than 260 properties, incorporating 190 kilometres of new fencing and 115km of stream banks retired from grazing
  • planting of more than 465,000 native plants to support environmental restoration efforts or alternative land use
  • expansion of the Waipa catchment plan programme to include about $1 million of Waikato River Authority-supported soil conservation work in priority catchments, including wetland restoration at Waipa Rerenoa and Mangaotama
  • more than $900,000 in grants to 91 community environmental projects.

There was also extensive work around the region on maintaining and upgrading flood management assets that protect communities and productive land, particularly extensive equipment and stopbank upgrades in the lower Waikato River and Waihou-Piako catchments.

The report noted that extensive bad weather had meant that not all the year’s planned capital expenditure works had been completed.

The ICM team itself has been involved in a major response to flooding during and since that bad weather, particularly on the Hauraki Plains.

An earlier report in June to the ICM committee outlined how more than $1 million from the council’s disaster reserve fund was being used to help fix rainfall and flood-related damage caused by the three major weather systems that hit the region on the trot earlier in 2017. 

The integrated catchment committee’s co-chair (North) Stu Husband said the activity outlined in the report was impressive.

“The ICM team put in a very solid effort last year, particularly in responding to the flooding issues we saw,” Cr Husband said.

“This spending will do heaps to protect both the environment and productive land going forward. It’s an essential and huge part of the regional council’s role.”